In view of the number of infertility clinics in the Los Angeles area, many Angeleno women are desirous of achieving a pregnancy. Since ancient times, women have been blamed for the lack of child production, not Mr. Studley. In the past, women who were “barren” or produced children of the wrong gender were sometimes put to death. Although we are much more civilized at present, it is not uncommon for the woman to bear the brunt of the infertility blame. The reality of the situation is that it takes two to make a baby and low fertility of either partner can result in a childless family.
In essence, the man has to produce an adequate number of high quality sperm to impregnate his partner. Many factors can impact sperm production. For example, long hot baths impact sperm production because the process of spermatogenesis (sperm production) requires a temperature less than the normal body temperature. Now, researchers affiliated with Harvard University have discovered another factor that may lower a man’s fertility: processed meats such as bacon. They presented their findings at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s 2013 Annual Meeting in Boston (October 12 through October 17).
The study group comprised 156 men whose partners undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). Each couple was asked questions regarding about their diet, including how often they consumed processed meat, red meat, white meat, poultry, and fish. The investigators found that, in general, men who consumed more than half a portion of processed meats such as bacon each day had significantly lower levels of high quality sperm, compared to men who ate less than half a portion of processed meats per day. In addition, the researchers found that some foods appeared to improve sperm quality. For example, a diet high in fish, fresh fruits, and fresh vegetables were related to improved sperm quality.
The following risk factors are related to male infertility:
- Smoking tobacco or marijuana
- Using certain illegal drugs
- Obesity or overweight
- Certain past or present infections; for example, mumps can cause infertility/
- Toxin exposure
- Overheating the testicles (i.e., long, hot baths or working in a hot, humid environment)
- A prior vasectomy or vasectomy reversal
- Genetic disorders (i.e., cystic fibrosis causes male infertility)
- Medical conditions such as malignant tumors or chronic illnesses
- Exposure to radiation
- Certain medications (read drug literature or consult with a physician)
- Certain prolonged activities such as bicycling or horseback riding that exert pressure on the testicles
Take home message:
This study found an association between preserved meat consumption and lowered male fertility; however, if a man occasionally eats preserved meat, it will probably not significantly impact his fertility. However, limiting consumption of preserved meats is a component of a healthy diet and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health problems.