Food with Influence in the Sexual and Reproductive Health

Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2019;20(2):114-122. doi: 10.2174/1389201019666180925140400.


Background: Sexual dysfunction and infertility are conditions with high prevalence in the general population. Nutritional factors have been reported to have an impact on sexual and reproductive health.

Objective: The aim of this review is to summarize the data on nutritional factors that have influence on male and female sexual and reproductive function, including nutritional status, specific foods (e.g. dairy food), nutrients and other food components and dietary supplements.

Method: A literature search was performed using Cochrane Library, Medline and Science Direct databases without time limitations.

Results: Obesity has a negative influence on male fertility, and weight loss improves male fertility. Food insufficiency is associated with increased sexual risk behaviours, more significant in women. Regarding macronutrients and group foods, trans-fatty acids, high glycemic index food, high carbohydrate diet and high animal protein intake prejudices fertility; omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, low glycemic index food and low carbohydrate diet, vegetable proteins and antioxidants improve fertility. Isoflavones have a negative impact on men fertility and improve sexual health of menopausal women. Whole milk improves women fertility, but men benefit from skim milk. Concerning dietary supplements, there is weak evidence sustaining efficacy, and the most promising supplements are yohimbine, vitamin B, L-arginine and vitamin D.

Conclusion: The compiled results indicate that despite the multifactorial etiology of sexual/ reproductive dysfunction, nutritional factors may affect the sexual and reproductive health in both men and women. However, it is necessary to further study to clarify this association and simultaneously improve the approach and treatment of patients with sexual and/or reproductive problems.

Keywords: Male infertility; aphrodisiacs; dietary supplements; female infertility; libido; nutrition; sexual dysfunction; sexual health..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status
  • Reproductive Health*
  • Sexual Health*