Cornell University

Cornell University
Weill Medical College

Cornell Institute for Reproductive Medicine

Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Microsurgery

"State-of-the-Art Compassionate Care for the Infertile Couple"

What's New in Male Infertility Treatment at Cornell
Men’s Health and Fertility Lifestyle Information

Patients with infertility can have some control of their reproductive function by living healthy lifestyles. Often some “negative” lifestyle may be contributing to their infertility. Therefore, if patients live healthy lifestyles, it is possible that there will be some improvement in their reproductive function. There may not be conclusive evidence for all these lifestyle recommendations, but rarely will following these guidelines hurt, and often they may help:
  1. Males should avoid excessive heat (avoid waterbeds, saunas, hot tubs, etc.).
  2. Limit coffee to 1 or 2 cups per day.
  3. Do not smoke.
  4. Do not use marijuana, cocaine, or other recreational drugs. Marijuana stays in the testes for 2 weeks, so even using it once every two weeks will have a negative effect.
  5. Exercise regularly and moderately.
  6. Drink no more than 2 ounces of alcohol twice per week. Females should abstain from alcohol if pregnant.
  7. Have good nutritional habits, especially a diet rich in fresh fruits, leafy vegetables and fish. Avoid excess of animal fat (red meat, fried food, cheese and whole milk). Diets high in animal fat are associated with a high risk of prostate cancer and heart disease.
  8. Be aware of sexual problems and do not hesitate to ask for medical help.
  9. Patients should educate themselves about health and reproduction.
  10. Seek emotional and/or psychological support; consider meditation to reduce stress.

It is believed that taking certain vitamins may help improve your fertility. The mechanism of action is believed to be as follows:
The breakdown of oxygen as it passes through the cells in our body results in substances known as free radicals. Infertile men have a higher concentration of free radicals in their semen as compared to fertile men. Free radicals attack and destroy the membrane that surrounds sperm. Anti-oxidants fight against these bad effects. VITAMINS ARE NATURAL ANTI-OXIDANTS!

Dr. Marc Goldstein suggests: There is a product currently available that contains all the suggested supplements except CO Q10 200 mg/day. This product, Conception XR for Men, is available at It can be used with CO Q10 200 mg/day to fulfill the recommended vitamin regime.


DO NOT USE saliva, KY Jelly, Astroglide, Surgilube or any other over-the-counter lubricants. Natural lubrication is best. Dr. Goldstein recommends the following lubricants:
  1. A small amount of baby oil
  2. Whole milk
  3. Egg whites
  4. Preseed - this lubricant is available on the internet at
Suggested References:
  1. Rolf C; Cooper TG; Yeung CH; Nieschlag E: Antioxidant treatment of patients with asthenozoospermia or moderate oligoasthenozoospermia with high-dose vitamin C and vitamin E: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind study. Hum Reprod. 1999 Dec; 14(12): 3149-50
  2. Goverde HJ, Dekker HS, Janssen HJ, Bastiaans BA, Rolland R, Zielhuis GA: Semen quality and frequency of smoking and alcohol consumption - an explorative study. Int J Fertil 1995; 40:135–8.
  3. Kessopoulou E; Powers HJ; Sharma KK; Pearson MJ; Russell JM; Cooke ID; Barratt CL: A double-blind randomized placebo cross-over controlled trial using the antioxidant vitamin E to treat reactive oxygen species associated male infertility. Fertil Steril (United States), Oct 1995, 64(4) 825-31
  4. Halliwell, B. Reactive Oxygen Species in Living Systems: Source, Biochemistry, and Role in Human Diseases. The American Journal of Medicine, Sept. 30, 1991; 91: 3C-14S--3C-22S.
  5. Bayer R. Treatment of infertility with vitamin E. Int J Fertil 1960; 5:70–8.
  6. Lewis, S., Boyle, P.M., McKinney, K.A., Young, I.S., Thompson, W. Total Antioxidant Capacity of Seminal Plasma is Different in Fertile and Infertile Men. Fertility and Sterility, Oct. 1995; 64(4): 868-70.
  7. Iwasaki, A., and Gagnon, C. Formation of Reactive Oxygen Species in Spermatozoa of Infertile Patients. Fertility and Sterility, Feb. 1992; 57(2): 409-416.
  8. Fraga, C.G., Motchnik, P.A., Shigenaga, M.K., Helbock, H.J., Jacob, R.A., and Ames, B.N. Ascorbic Acid Protects Against Endogenous Oxidative DNA Damage in Human Sperm. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dec. 1991; 88: 11003-11006.
  9. Vezina D, Mauffette F, Roberts KD, Bleau G: Selenium-vitamin E supplementation in infertile men. Effects on semen parameters and micronutriental levels and distribution. Bio Trace Elem Res ( United States), Summer 1996, 53(1-3) 65-83
  10. Geva, Bartoov B, Zabludovsky N, et al. The effect of antioxidant treatment on human spermatozoa and fertilization rate in an in vitro fertilization program. Fertil Steril 1996; 66:430–4.
  11. Gagnon, C., Iwasaki, A., Lamirande, E.D., and Kovalski, N. Reactive Oxygen Species and Human Spermatozoa. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1991; 637: 436-44.
  12. Dawson EB, Harris WA, Teter MC Dawson EB, Harris WA, Teter MC, Powell LC. Effect of ascorbic acid supplementation on the sperm quality of smokers. Fertil Steril 1992; 58:1034–9
  13. Dawson EB, Harris WA, Powell LC. Relationship between ascorbic acid and male fertility. In: Aspects of Some Vitamins, Minerals and Enzymes in Health and Disease, ed. GH Bourne. World Rev Nutr Diet 1990; 62:1–26 [review]
  14. Hunt CD, Johnson PE, Herbel JoL, Mullen LK. Effects of dietary zinc depletion on seminal volume and zinc loss, serum testosterone concentrations, and sperm morphology in young men. Am J Clin Nutr 1992; 56:148–57.
  15. Marmar JL, Katz S, Praiss DE, DeBenedictis TJ. Semen zinc levels in infertile and postvasectomy patients and patients with prostatitis. Fertil Steril 1975:26:1057–63.
  16. Netter A, Hartoma R, Nahoul K. Effect of zinc administration on plasma testosterone, dihydrotestosterone and sperm count. Arch Androl 1981;7:69–73.
  17. Scott R, MacPherson A, Yates RWS, et al. The effect of oral selenium supplementation on human sperm motility. Br J Urol 1998; 82:76–80.

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