Health And Wellness

9 Common Things Men Do Every Day That Lower Their Sperm Count

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man laying on bed

Remember when we all thought Mountain Dew affected a guy's sperm count? Luckily, those days are gone and we're hoping no one actually used the soda as a form of birth control. But there still are some very ordinary things that do influence a man's fertility.

From the unhealthy habits to the stranger ones, we're counting down what causes low sperm count in men and how the things he loves doing are decreasing his sperm production.

1. Wearing sunscreen

Lathering up before a day in the sun may actually be protecting him against skin cancer but it's also potentially impairing his fertility. A study from Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) found that chemicals commonly found in sunscreen can impair male fertility by 30 percent.

When the skin absorbs chemicals that filter out UV rays, like BP-2 or 3OH-BP, it can interfere with its hormones. Researchers say men concerned about fertility should wash off sunscreen when they head indoors.

2. Eating processed meat

Trying to conceive? He may want to re-think those BLTs he's been scarfing down every day. A study found that processed meat, like sausage or bacon, can significantly harm sperm quality.

I know, I know, he's probably thinking, take my eyes but not the bacon, but the Harvard University researchers found that men who ate half a portion of processed meat a day had 5.5 percent "normal"-shaped sperm cells, compared to 7.2 percent who ate less. Instead, they found that fish is possibly the secret to better sperm. Bacon, egg, and halibut sandwich, anyone? 

3. Watching TV

Another reason he should hand over that remote? The couch isn't doing much for his health, as you may have guessed. But it's not just his physique and motivation that are at risk as he kicks his feet up on the sofa and inhales a bag of Doritos.

A study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine confirmed that men who watch a lot of TV have less sperm than men who exercise moderately or vigorously each week. Couch potatoes who viewed more than 20 hours of television a week had 44 percent lower sperm count than men who watched almost no television. Time to get moving, fellas.

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4. Drinking

Turns out, the beer belly isn't the only bad side effect of his favorite beverage. Drinking alcohol can lower testosterone levels, which in turn leads to decreased sperm quality and production. Moderation is key with drinking, and hopefully, he stops doing it on the couch watching TV, too.

5. Not having sex

While we just ruled out some of his favorite activities, he will probably be more apt to help remedy this sperm-zapper. While some have said "saving sperm" until a woman is most fertile could help couples who are trying to conceive, it actually has no benefit and can make matters worse.

For guys with low sperm count, abstaining from even one day of sex can decrease their production even further, according to researchers at Soroka University Medical Centre in Israel. Abstaining from sex also causes sperm to change in shape, a sign that the sperm is going stale. 

6. Stressing

Stress is bad for numerous emotional and physical reasons, but his fertility is at risk too. Whether he's anxious about work or even having a low sperm count, severe or prolonged stress can interfere with testosterone production. We know some fun stress-busters for you and your guy. Wink, wink.

7. Eating soy

Who thought something as delicious (and addictive) as edamame could be so detrimental to the reproductive system? 

A 2008 Harvard School of Public Health study revealed that even half a serving of soy a day was enough to harm a man's sperm production. Isoflavones, which are found in soy products, actually mimic estrogen. More tofu for you.

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8. Using a laptop and cell phone

As addicted as he is to his two favorite pieces of technology, it might be best for his sperm count to avoid using them for long periods of time. Researchers warn that the heat given off from laptops may increase the temperature in his scrotum and reduce sperm production.

In 2008, a study revealed a strong association between cell phone use and sperm count, saying that those who talked for four or more hours had fewer, weaker sperm. More recently, researchers discovered that men who carry their phones in their pocket or on their belt (they still do that?) were more likely to have fewer, inactive sperm.

9. Being a vegetarian

Thought a plant-based diet pretty much made you healthy as a whistle? Us too. Until this study came out saying that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables may harm fertility!

Researchers at Loma Linda University Medical School found that vegetarians and vegans had much lower sperm counts compared with carnivores, 50 million sperm per ml compared with 70 million per ML. They also had less active sperm.

One-third of sperm were active for veggies and vegans versus nearly 60 percent for meat-eaters. What's to blame? The guess is vitamin deficiencies and those evil soy replacements we just told you about.

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Michelle Toglia is a sex and relationships editor at Bustle.