Does Pre-Workout Affect Male Fertility? (Scientific Facts)

Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD
Published by Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD | Medical Doctor
Last updated: February 16, 2024
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Pre-workouts typically don't have a direct impact on male fertility. Nevertheless, excessive caffeine and certain pre-workout ingredients can potentially affect sperm quality and motility.

As a practicing physician, I've encountered patients who reported abnormal semen analysis results and conducted extensive research, especially on the effects of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) on male fertility.

If you're concerned about the impact of pre-workouts on your sperm count, I've gathered all my findings in this article to provide you with valuable insights.

Quick Summary

  • Pre-workout supplements may affect sperm quality if consumed excessively, but they do not typically have a direct impact on male fertility.
  • According to the National Institutes of Health, moderate caffeine consumption in pre-workout supplements is generally safe for male reproductive health.
  • Approximately 30-80% of infertility cases are caused by oxidative stress, and supplement ingredients such as creatine, zinc, and vitamin B12 have been shown to influence sperm quality and fertility.
  • In my opinion, men concerned about fertility should consider opting for supplements with safe and legal ingredients while they work to enhance their fitness journey.

Can Workout Supplements Affect Sperm Production?

Workout kit with supplements

Workout supplements can affect sperm cell production as they may contain illegal substances that disrupt the release of hormones responsible for producing sperm cells.

A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health has shown that exercise supplements with a high sugar content may lower the quality of sperm in men, leading to lower counts [1].

Nevertheless, I've discovered that certain ingredients present in natural sports supplements have demonstrated the ability to improve sperm concentration, motility, and morphology. More on this in the next section.

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7 Ingredients That Affect Sperm Quality

Several pre-workout ingredients listed below can potentially impact sperm quality by increasing energy production, protecting DNA from oxidation, and promoting healthy testosterone levels in the blood.

1. Caffeine

Top view close up image of coffee beans

Caffeine boosts performance but might harm men's reproductive health. The National Library of Medicine review shows too much caffeine can damage sperm DNA and mess with chromosome numbers [2].

Although epidemiological studies were inconclusive, clinical guidance from the Committee on Obstetric Practice suggests that daily caffeine intake below 200 mg does not affect sperm quality linked to miscarriages or premature births [3].

2. Creatine

Creatine in pre-workout supplements may not only aid in muscle gain but also have a positive impact on male fertility.

Academic research from Oxford University Press indicates that creatine supplementation can raise adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels in sperm cells, thus enhancing their motility [4].

This improvement in physiology or sperm capacity can make it easier for sperm cells to reach the egg and facilitate fertilization, according to the National Institutes of Health [5].

3. Branched Chain Amino Acids

Amino acid branch graphic concept

A study from the National Institutes of Health found that optimal BCAA levels in whey protein powders can synergistically enhance sperm function and testosterone production, ultimately leading to improved fertility [6].

Furthermore, the Journal of Animal Science suggests that the combination the amino acids—leucine, isoleucine, and valine—can help expedite protein synthesis [7].

This leads to faster muscle growth and an increase in androgen receptors, which contributes to greater lean body mass in men.

4. L-arginine

As reported by WebMD, L-arginine, a precursor of nitric oxide, has the potential to increase blood circulation throughout the body [8].

A study published in academic research by Oxford University Press suggests that Nitric Oxide (NO) can enhance sperm cell energy production, motility, and fertilization capability [9].

Furthermore, the same study also suggests that NO may assist in countering spermicidal activities that protect sperm membranes from damage caused by lipid peroxidation.

5. L-Carnitine

A scoop of L-Carnitine powder

A comparative study done by the New York Academy of Sciences on L-carnitine (LC) and acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) have been shown to boost energy production by improving mitochondrial function [10].

This effect of carnitine in cells promotes better lipid metabolism, which enhances the normal progressive movement of sperm cells.

Furthermore, the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics found that ALC is high in antioxidants, which can aid sperm maturation by protecting them from oxidative damage, increasing the number of normal-shaped, motile sperms [11].

6. Vitamin B12

According to the National Institute for Health, several studies have indicated that vitamin B12 can improve male fertility by enhancing sperm count, motility, and morphology [12].

Furthermore, these studies have revealed that vitamin B12 can reduce inflammation and sperm DNA damage, ultimately leading to improved sperm morphology.

By stimulating the testes to produce healthy, mobile, mature sperm cells, men experiencing infertility issues can potentially restore their fertility.

7. Zinc

variation of zinc capsules

According to Nutrition Research, getting enough zinc in pre-workouts can help increase testosterone levels, sperm count, and semen quality, thus enhancing fertility in men [13].

A meta-analysis of 20 different studies published in 2016 found that getting enough zinc can improve the motility, shape, and number of sperm.

Also, scientific reports indicate that taking zinc through natural performance enhancers has been shown to protect sperm from the damaging effects of toxins [14].

Other Supplements That Impact Fertility

Variety of supplements

Aside from pre-workouts, some exercise supplements contain substances that have been shown to influence sperm count, motility, and maturation, potentially affecting fertility.

Protein Shakes

While some protein powders mixed with water offer essential amino acids that can support male fertility, it's important to note that not all protein sources may have a positive impact on sperm quality or quantity.

"If these protein supplements don't just contain protein but contain sex steroid metabolites that suppress the pituitary gland, they will act like any other steroid injection or tablet. It will suppress the pituitary's drive to the testicle and turn down sperm production."

- Robert McLachlan, Andrologist & Medical Director of Healthy Male

Protein powder shakes are not FDA-regulated, and a survey of protein-based sports supplements has indicated that some may contain illegal substances like anabolic steroids, which have been linked to lower sperm counts [15].

Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic Steroids on a syringe

Anabolic steroids, also called anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), can disrupt male fertility by tricking the brain into perceiving high testosterone levels in the body.

According to the National Institute for Health, this misperception leads to reduced signaling for the release of luteinizing hormones (LH) and follicular stimulating hormones (FSH), which are responsible for testosterone production and sperm creation [16].

FAQs

Can Building Muscle Mass Help Male Fertility?

Building lean muscle mass can enhance male fertility by raising testosterone levels in the blood. Engaging in strength training and weightlifting also improves insulin sensitivity, facilitating the transport of glucose and amino acids into the working muscles. Both increased T levels and improved insulin sensitivity seem to be linked to higher sperm counts.

Can Creatine Cause Male Infertility?

Creatine can unlikely cause male infertility; instead, it might be helpful because it can promote lean muscle gains, potentially leading to higher testosterone levels needed for healthy sperm production. Additionally, creatine supplementation may enhance sperm energy production and motility, which could be beneficial for fertility.

Can You Take Pre-workout While Trying to Conceive?

You can take a pre-workout while trying to conceive; however, it's recommended to avoid taking supplements with high caffeine content, as it could potentially affect male fertility. Your best choice would be a pre-workout without stimulants, and avoid those with questionable ingredients lacking solid research on their safety.

Does Pre-workout Boost Testosterone?

Pre-workout does not directly boost testosterone. While some pre-workout supplements may contain ingredients that could indirectly support testosterone production or enhance exercise-related hormone responses, their impact on testosterone levels is generally modest and short-term.

Does Taking Pre-workout Help Increase Sperm Count?

Based on my patient interactions, I've learned that pre-workouts can potentially support sperm health due to their amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that enhance sperm motility and morphology, ultimately improving semen quality.

However, it's essential to exercise caution with supplements that may contain illegal substances, as these can disrupt sperm development and production.

For top-notch organic pre-workout options we've personally tested, check out our guide. You can choose the one that suits you best to achieve peak performance and muscle growth while preserving your fertility.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4168308/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28646871/
  3. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2010/08/moderate-caffeine-consumption-during-pregnancy
  4. https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/33/6/1117/4964858
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8839819/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30411393/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3322509/
  8. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-875/l-arginine
  9. https://academic.oup.com/biolreprod/article/74/5/954/2667057
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15591009/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3455151/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5485731/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19285597/
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26932683/
  15. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0039128X20301847https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20170901/protein-powder-can-provide-boo
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544259/
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