What Determines the Quality of Semen

It's important for men to take care of their diet and lifestyle in order to maintain the health and quality of their semen.
What Determines the Quality of Semen

Last update: 05 November, 2018

There are many factors that can affect the quality of semen. These factors can either increase or decrease semen’s ability to fertilize an egg.

Semen is a whitish fluid that is expelled from the urethra during ejaculation. It’s secreted from the testicles.

The main purpose of semen is reproductionIt acts as a vehicle to carry sperm to the female reproductive organs. That’s why having good quality semen is vital to achieve fertilization.

Characteristics of semen

Semen should have the following characteristics:

  • Color: should be whitish or grey.
  • Texture: should be gelatinous.
  • Aroma: should be similar to the smell of chlorine.
  • Taste: due to its lactose content, it tends to be sweet.

Factors that can influence the quality of semen

Various conditions and factors can affect the quality of semen. Certain factors can reduce the probability of achieving fertilization.

Here are a few examples:


The quality of semen depends to a large extent on the man’s age. The older a man is, the less fertile he becomes. 

Exercise and extreme sports

Excessive sports can reduce the quality of semen. The use of steroids can also be an important influencing factor.


Alcohol, tobacco and drugs are all harmful. The toxins contained in narcotics can affect the quality of semen since they reduce the production of sperm. The use of certain medications can also have a negative effect on semen.

What Determines the Quality of Semen

Soft drinks

Excessive intake of soft drinks is also associated with reducing the quality of semen.

Environmental pollution

Industrial pollution and its consequences are mostly noticeable in men who live in large, industrialized cities.


Heavy or rough work and stress can contribute to a low sperm count. If you’re feeling stressed, try to rest and sleep for a least 8 hours.


Certain diseases such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart problems, and sexually transmitted diseases can also have a negative effect on the quality of semen.

Contact with chemicals

Exposure to radiation and chemicals can affect men’s reproductive organs and quality of semen.


This means not having sex for a long period of time. It can also have a negative effect on the quality of semen.

“The purpose of semen is reproduction, it acts as a vehicle to carry sperm to the female reproductive organs.”

High body temperature

Changes in body temperature can negatively affect the quality of semen. It’s known that recurrent or prolonged fevers can affect the quality of semen.

When these changes in body temperature are caused by fever, they’re only momentary. The semen’s quality returns to normal as soon as the body’s temperature stabilizes.

Avoid situations that increase the temperature of the genitals. The following activities should be avoided:

  • Hot showers and saunas.
  • Computer equipment and mobile phones near the lower part of the waist.
  • Wearing tight pants and underwear. Ideally, underwear should be made of cotton and it should have a loose fit.
  • Try to sleep without underwear, this will keep the testicles fresh.

Having strong and healthy sperm is vital to maximize the probability of fertilization. This can be achieved by maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. It’s also important to intake adequate levels of calcium and to ejaculate regularly.

What Determines the Quality of Semen

Foods that can improve the quality of semen

A healthy diet can influence the quality of semen. A healthy diet for men should include the following foods:

  • Fruits rich in vitamin C are recommended such as oranges.
  • Vitamin E is also recommended and it can be found in nuts and olive oil.
  • Vitamin A is yet another essential element and it can be found in seeds and oysters.
  • Omega 3 and 6 are key to sperm maturation. They can be found in flax seed, fish and nuts.
  • Selenium is important when it comes to the production of testosterone, therefore it’s also important for the production of semen. It can be found in whole grains, seeds and nuts.

Which foods can negatively affect the quality of semen?

Certain foods can also negatively affect the quality of semen. Try to reduce the consumption of the following:

  • Carbohydrates shouldn’t be eaten in excess since they reduce the quality of semen.
  • Red meats should also be eaten in moderation due to their high content of trans fats.
  • Junk food such as French fries, popcorn, pizza and hamburgers should be avoided.

In conclusion, a healthy diet which includes vegetables, fish, fruits, cereal and meats can be beneficial to the quality of semen. On the contrary, the consumption of alcohol, drugs and tobacco can reduce sperm counts.

If you want to be a father, try to live a healthy lifestyle and avoid stress and vices. This should be done at least until you achieve your goal of fatherhood.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Ilacqua A, Izzo G, Emerenziani GP, Baldari C, Aversa A. Lifestyle and fertility: the influence of stress and quality of life on male fertility. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2018 Nov 26;16(1):115
  • Bundhun PK, Janoo G, Bhurtu A, Teeluck AR, Soogund MZS, Pursun M, Huang F. Tobacco smoking and semen quality in infertile males: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health. 2019 Jan 8;19(1):36

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.