Lemon juice can both hurt and help male fertility, depending on how it is used. The nutrients in this juice — including vitamin C and folate — may boost fertility, although applying it directly to sperm may have deleterious effects. Do not consume lemon juice to treat male infertility without consulting your health care provider.
About Male Fertility
The National Institutes of Health reports that up to 15 percent of couples are unable to conceive a child after one year of trying. In one-third of cases, the issue with infertility is related to the man. Male infertility may occur for any number of reasons, including damage to or malformation of the testicles, malformed sperm, small amounts of sperm, infections that attack sperm, tumors and hormonal imbalances. Diet may also influence the quality of sperm.
Improving Fertility With Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, helping to prevent or reduce damage to cells in the body. Getting adequate amounts of vitamin C through lemon juice and other foods in the diet may improve male fertility. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 fluid ounce of lemon juice provides almost 12 milligrams of vitamin C. Seminal plasma, or fluid that mixes with sperm during ejaculation, contains a high concentration of vitamin C. According to a study published in 2016 by the International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine, infertile men often have decreased levels of antioxidants in their semen. Increased consumption of vitamin C can help prevent damage to sperm cells by increasing the amount of antioxidants in semen.
A study published in 2016 by the Nigerian Medical Journal investigated the effects of vitamin C on semen in rats. This study found that vitamin C increased reproductive hormone levels and sperm motility and decreased malformed sperm. More research is needed to confirm this finding in humans.
Folate and Sperm Health
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, lemon juice provides several vitamins, including folate, or vitamin B9. Folate is an antioxidant that is involved in DNA production. A literature review published in 2017 by the Urology Journal suggests that folate may help to increase sperm production in men with low sperm counts. However, folate does not positively affect sperm quality — another cause of infertility — according to a study published in 2013 by the First International Journal of Andrology. Both studies recommend further research on the effects of folate on infertility.
Lemon Juice Kills Sperm
Despite the usefulness of lemon juice nutrients in boosting sperm quality and fertility, it is also true that lemon juice kills sperm. According to a study published in 2016 by Agriculture and Natural Resources, when lemon juice was mixed with semen, sperm were immediately paralyzed and became permanently deformed. These findings suggest that lemon juice could be used as a component of a natural form of birth control in the future.
Lemon Juice in Your Diet
While lemon juice is not typically consumed in large quantities, some simple changes can make it more suitable for incorporation into your diet, for example, adding lemon juice to plain water or salad dressings. Lemon juice may also be added to steamed vegetables or used to marinate a variety of meats.
- Agriculture and Natural Resources: Spermicidal Effects of Lemon Juice and Juices From Other Natural Products
- National Institutes of Health: How Common Is Infertility?
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Lemon Juice, Raw
- Nigerian Medical Journal: Ascorbic Acid Treatment Elevates Follicle Stimulating Hormone and Testosterone Plasma Levels and Enhances Sperm Quality in Albino Wistar Rats
- Urology Journal: The Effect of Folate and Folate Plus Zinc Supplementation on Endocrine Parameters and Sperm Characteristics in Sub-Fertile Men: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysi (PDF) The Effect of Folate and Folate Plus Zinc Supplementation on Endocrine Parameters and Sperm Characteristics in Sub-Fertile Men: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317629359_The_Effect_of_Folate_and_Folate_Plus_Zinc_Supplementation_on_Endocrine_Parameters_and_Sperm_Characteristics_in_Sub-Fertile_Men_A_Systematic_Review_and_Meta-Analysis
- International Journal of Reproductive Biomedicine: Antioxidant Supplements and Semen Parameters: An Evidence Based Review