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6 things that can affect male fertility

12th Jan | All

Male fertility rates are down by 60% since the 1970’s and are falling at an average rate of 1.4% a year. But whats to blame? Scientists are pointing the finger at changes in the modern world.

The introduction of new technologies and chemicals, the rising obesity rates and the increased stress levels placed onto humans in todays society are only a few of the influences mentioned as a cause of decreased sperm counts by researchers at Hebrew University [1]. Scientists warn that we are entering a male fertility crisis and if we do not change the way we are living, this may result in the extinction of the human species.

It is becoming more and more common in todays society f0r women to wait until their 30s to try to conceive a child, which already decreases their fertility success. If the male partner also has decreased fertility, this may leave couples unable to have a baby.

Below we have listed just a few environmental and lifestyle influences which may be affecting a mans fertility that you might not even be aware of!

  1. Alcohol 

Alcoholic drinks have been found to significantly decrease a mans testosterone levels, which can result in low quality sperm and decreased sperm production. The good news is these effects can be quickly reversed when you stop drinking alcohol!

2. Sleep

How often would you say you get the recommended 8 hours sleep at night? A study published in the journal Fertility & Sterility found that men who had trouble sleeping at night, who exceeded the recommended 8 hours of sleep or under-slept had decreased fertility compared to men who slept the recommended 8 hours [2]. The study analysed 695 couples who were trying to get pregnant and found that men who had less then 6 hours sleep were 31% less likely to impregnate their partner while those who slept 9 hours or more were 49% less likely to get their partners pregnant. 

3.Antibiotics

New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [3] has suggested that taking ibuprofen for as little as two weeks can significantly reduce a males sperm production. Particularly, men who were taking the maximum recommended dose of the over the counter medication regularly had a disruption in their testosterone products, which can result in decreased sperm count. The men in the study suffered no long term damage, however scientists are worried that men who use high doses of ibuprofen over long periods of time may cause irreversible damage to their fertility.

4. Mobile phones

The trends in todays society leaves men wearing tight trousers with their smart phones in their front pockets. However, a man having their mobile phone that close to their groin seems to be “cooking” their sperm. Researchers have found that mobile phones can decrease the quality and number of active sperm by increasing the temperature of the sperm, resulting in a lower sperm count. This does not only apply to men who put their phone in the front pockets but also those who sleep with their phone only a few centimetres from their bed!

5. Hot baths

Sperm production is at its optimum in a cool environment, hence why male testicles are located outside of their body. By spending 30 minutes or more in a hot bath per week, men are significantly damaging their sperm count. A study which investigated the sperm count of men who were visiting a fertility clinic found that by avoiding hot baths they were able to increase their fertility by 12 to 34%.

6. Processed meats

By tracking the diet and health of men undergoing cycles of IVF, the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University [5] were able to find a correlation between the the consumption of processed meat and decreased fertility in men. In fact, men who ate small amounts of processed meat had a 28% chance of getting their partner pregnant compared to  men who consumed more processed meat. Not only this, but they also found that men who ate more poultry had increased fertilisation rates.

[1] https://new.huji.ac.il/en/taxonomy/term/520

[2] http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(16)61644-8/pdf

[3] http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/01/03/1715035115.full.pdf

[4]

[5] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/processed-meats-may-affect-male-fertility/