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5 Surprising Benefits of Zinc Sexually

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Geoffrey Whittaker

Published 06/13/2023

Updated 03/28/2024

What does zinc do for men? Are there any benefits of zinc, sexually speaking? We’re here to answer these questions.

Zinc supplements are a popularly discussed essential for the adult male — and for good reason. Many bodily functions (including immune system health, wound healing and DNA synthesis) require zinc to be carried out.

In recent years, researchers have investigated the potential sexual benefits of zinc, with some studies suggesting that this mineral may play a role in enhancing sexual function in both men and women.

There’s a lot of sound science behind this claim. For people who lack the essential mineral, a deficiency can cause many problems. And these issues can only be addressed by bringing zinc levels back into the safe zone.

Below, we’ll go over the sexual benefits of zinc for men and other benefits zinc provides. We’ll also cover some important details about zinc deficiency and what you need to know about supplements if you’re thinking about taking one.

Google “does zinc make you harder,” and you’ll find any number of people claiming that more zinc can increase sex drive and that there are links between zinc and erectile dysfunction (ED).

But does zinc help with ED? Will the right supplement give you a zinc erection? 

Here’s the truth: men’s sexual health is more than a coin-operated carnival ride. Yes, healthy zinc levels are a vital part of your ability to function, but the connections are often not as obvious as you might hope.

Zinc affects various sexual issues, including:

  • Testosterone levels

  • Erectile health and blood flow

  • Fertility

  • Prostate health

Read on to learn how.

Testosterone Levels

Testosterone is a critical hormone for men. It’s responsible for muscle mass, bone density and other functions.

Zinc is necessary for the production of testosterone and has been shown to increase testosterone levels in men who are deficient in this mineral. The key mineral is considered an essential part of maintaining healthy testosterone levels.

Erectile Health and Blood Flow

Zinc may also improve sexual function by increasing blood flow to the genital area. This is because the trace mineral is necessary for the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow. When blood flow to the genital area is increased, it can enhance sexual arousal and pleasure.

Fertility

A 2018 review concluded that zinc was an essential element of male fertility. Zinc plays key roles in sperm health and quality, as well as fertilization. What’s more, zinc deficiency is connected with abnormal sperm.

Supports Prostate Health

Zinc is also important for maintaining optimal prostate health. The prostate gland contains a high concentration of zinc, and research suggests it may help prevent and treat prostate enlargement and inflammation — potentially even reducing the risk of prostate cancer, though more research is needed.

Zinc is responsible for everything from sperm count and testosterone production— one of the key sex hormones — not to mention sperm motility and sperm quality. Of the essential nutrients, it may have the most impressive resume, and of the nutrient deficiencies you can have, it may have the most obvious effects on your sexual health.

But zinc doesn’t stop there. Besides its sexual benefits, the trace mineral is known to support a number of crucial processes in the body. The benefits of zinc include immune function, wound healing and cognitive function. Let’s look at these in more detail. 

Boosts Immune System Function

Zinc is involved in the development and activation of immune cells, including T-cells and natural killer cells, which help fight off infections and other illnesses. In fact, several studies have found that zinc supplementation can reduce the incidence and duration of the common cold and other respiratory infections in men.

Enhances Wound Healing

Zinc is essential for wound healing, as it plays a critical role in cell division, tissue repair and collagen synthesis. Studies have found that zinc supplementation can improve wound healing in men, particularly those who are deficient in the mineral. This could be particularly relevant for men recovering from surgery or other injuries.

Improves Cognitive Function

Zinc may also have benefits for cognitive function, particularly in older men. A 2022 review pointed to numerous studies that found men who supplemented with zinc had improved cognitive function and memory compared to those who didn’t take the supplement. This suggests zinc may help prevent or slow age-related cognitive decline.

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According to the National Library of Medicine, the recommended daily intake of elemental zinc is 11 milligrams (mg) for adult males. How much of that you’ll absorb from a supplement is a more complicated thing to estimate, but generally speaking, a healthy diet can cover those needs.

Foods that contain zinc include:

  • Red meat

  • Poultry

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Wild rice

A well-balanced diet should cover your needs if it includes one or more of those foods on a regular basis. If, however, you’re not eating the right foods or are suffering from a condition that reduces your absorption, you might find yourself lacking adequate zinc.

Risk Factors for Zinc Deficiency 

There are several potential causes and risk factors for zinc deficiency. Obviously, inadequate dietary zinc is the main concern, especially in places where poor nutrition is common. But anorexia and strict vegan diets can also lead to a deficiency in zinc.

Additionally, the following could contribute to zinc deficiency:

  • Bowel problems

  • Crohn’s disease

  • Chronic illness

  • Excess alcohol consumption

  • HIV

  • Diabetes

  • Sickle cell disease

  • Hookworm infestation

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Since the average adult male typically needs 11 milligrams of zinc per day, the “treat a deficiency” dosage can be significantly higher than 11 milligrams. 

Experts generally recommend 2 to 3 milligrams per kilogram of weight or 20 to 40 milligrams as a daily dose. This amount will typically clear up problems caused by zinc deficiency in one to two weeks.

Higher supplement levels of zinc exceeding 50 milligrams per day are generally not necessary. At 150 milligrams per day, a person might experience adverse effects, including urinary problems, nausea, abdominal pain or diarrhea.

In other words, a person with a zinc deficiency needs to address this problem patiently to avoid additional health issues. If you’re not sure how to handle supplements for your individual circumstances, a healthcare provider is a great resource for information.

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If you’re zinc deficient, you need to do something about it. Zinc deficiency can lead to a number of health problems. However, if you’re experiencing those problems, zinc is neither the only possible cause nor the most likely. 

Here are the takeaways to remember about zinc:

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6 Sources

  1. Maxfield L, Shukla S, Crane JS. Zinc Deficiency. [Updated 2022 Nov 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493231/.
  2. Sun, R., Wang, J., Feng, J., & Cao, B. (2022). Zinc in Cognitive Impairment and Aging. Biomolecules, 12(7), 1000. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9312494/#:~:text=Zinc%20is%20important%20for%20the,and%20other%20diseases%20%5B15%5D.
  3. Fallah, A., Mohammad-Hasani, A., & Colagar, A. H. (2018). Zinc is an Essential Element for Male Fertility: A Review of Zn Roles in Men's Health, Germination, Sperm Quality, and Fertilization. Journal of reproduction & infertility, 19(2), 69–81.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6010824/.
  4. Rao, G., & Rowland, K. (2011). PURLs: Zinc for the common cold--not if, but when. The Journal of family practice, 60(11), 669–671. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273967/.
  5. Prasad, A. S., Mantzoros, C. S., Beck, F. W., Hess, J. W., & Brewer, G. J. (1996). Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 12(5), 344–348. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8875519/.
  6. Pluth, M. D., Tomat, E., & Lippard, S. J. (2011). Biochemistry of mobile zinc and nitric oxide revealed by fluorescent sensors. Annual review of biochemistry, 80, 333–355. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3117437/.
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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