BPA exposure and semen quality

November 17, 2010 by  

The controversial BPA aka bisphenol A makes the headlines again. And this time it is the men that should pay attention. A new study recently published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found strong correlations between BPA levels in the urine and sperm quality in male humans.

If you may remember, BPA is a compound used in the manufacture of certain types of plastics. Unfortunately, it leaches out from the plastic products into our food and drink.

The study looked at factory workers in China exposed to high levels of BPA in their job. This occupation exposure to BPA was measurable by urinalysis and was linked to poor semen quality, as indicated by low sperm count and decreased motility. These two properties of semen strongly determine the ability of the sperm to fertilize the egg. In other words, BPA exposure impacts a man’s fertility and reproductive potential.

According to study author Dr. De-Kun Li, MD, PhD, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research in Oakland.

“The higher the BPA exposure, the worse the semen quality. The findings add more weight to the evidence about the effects of BPA on sperm quality.”

BPA remains a controversial chemical and health agencies worldwide are divided in their stand on this chemical. Only two years ago, US health regulators did not believe that BPA may be dangerous, citing lack of scientific evidence as its basis. This year, the FDA finally admitted that the BPA may have some “potential health concerns.” Several American states have banned the chemical from baby products. Canada, however, is in the front line when it comes to eradicating BPA. Canadian health authorities recently placed BPA on its list of toxic (thus banned) chemicals). In Europe, BPA use is still widespread and no legislation is in place to regulate it.

Researchers believe that BPA is an endocrine-disrupting substance that plays havoc with our hormones, including sex hormones. Endocrine disruptors are also called “gender-bender” chemicals.

According to Dr. Laura V. Vandenberg of Tufts University in Boston:

“This study clearly shows that BPA exposures adversely affect men in a serious way: by influencing their semen quality, which could have obvious impacts on their ability to have children… [It] also shows that adult men are sensitive to BPA, and even small amounts of the chemical can have pretty drastic effects. What remains to be seen is whether the effects of BPA on semen quality are permanent after the kinds of low, chronic exposures that most adults experience.”

There are easy ways of protecting yourself and your family from BPA exposure.

Check out:

Bad food equals bad sperms

November 2, 2010 by  

Guys, what you put on your plate may determine the quality of your sperms.  Fries, burger, chips and all those tasty food that are swimming in saturated fat result in low sperm counts and sperms of low vigor. This is according a study by Harvard researchers.

The study looked at the semen quality and the diet of 91 male patients of the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center in Boston. What they found out were as follows:

Men with the highest intake of saturated fat had 41% fewer sperm than men who ate the lowest amount of saturated fat.

Men with the highest intake of monounsaturated fat had 46% fewer sperm compared with men with the lowest intake of monounsaturated fat.

On the other hand, those who eat healthy – especially food rich in polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids – are more likely to have healthy, vigorous sperms in normal numbers.

“Men who had a higher intake of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats had greater sperm motility, and a higher intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats was related to better sperm “morphology” — the size and shape of sperm.”

The authors point out that these results provoke some serious thoughts. Not only does a healthy or unhealthy diet affect a person’s health, it may also affect his reproductive potential as well as the health of his offspring. “The dietary pattern of a father-to-be is affecting the composition of the sperm that will be delivering half of the genes to a future son or daughter. So, it’s one more reason to choose our foods wisely.

The mechanism behind the association between diet quality and semen quality is not clear but the authors speculate:

“Polyunsaturated fats are important components of sperm cell membranes and may influence the ability of sperm to fertilize an egg.”

Food which are rich in the “good” fats are fish, whole grains, some seeds and nuts, and olive and canola oil.

Factors that can affect semen quality (thus fertility)

May 19, 2010 by  

Male fertility is highly dependent on semen and sperm quality. And quality of a man’s semen has been shown to be dependent on several factors. Let us look at these factors.


The quality of semen deteriorates with age as sperms accumulate genetic errors over time. Dr. Cral Herbert explains how these errors occur:

“Since sperm production is so high, a man has to keep copying his DNA over and over again to make sperm. All this DNA copying leads to small mistakes, called mutations. If you remember that at its most basic level, DNA is a series of letters that make up recipes called genes. If the recipe is copied millions of times a day, mistakes inevitably happen.”

Excess weight is found to be associated with abnormal semen quality and male factor infertility by South African researchers. Obesity affects directly or indirectly male infertility by “inducing sleep apnea, alterations in hormonal profiles (reduced inhibin B and androgen levels accompanied by elevated estrogen levels) and increased scrotal temperatures, ultimately manifesting as impaired semen parameters (decreased total sperm count, concentration and motility; increased DNA fragmentation index).” Whether this negative effect on fertility is reversible by weight loss is not known.


Diabetes is another condition linked to infertility. British researchers found that men with diabetes have more DNA damage in their sperms than non-diabetics.

Their results showed that:


Lifestyle factors, too, may play a role in semen quality, and lifestyle changes may help improve semen quality and thus fertility, according to a study by Italian researchers. The study looked at 52 male patients suffering a condition called high-grade varicocele without hypertrophy. Varicocele is characterized by swelling or lump that surrounds the testicle, usually the left. It is also associated with abnormal semen characteristics and decreased fertility. Semen quality as measured by spermiograms showed that smokers and alcohol drinkers have lower sperm counts and lower sperm motility and vitality compared to non-smokers and non-drinkers.

However, changes in lifestyle significantly improved sperm qualityby as much as 76%.

The lifestyle changes implemented included:

  • Quitting smoking or at least reduction of the number of cigarettes smoked per day
  • Reduction in alcohol consumption
  • Reduction in alcohol intake
  • Improved nutrition by increases daily consumption of fruits and vegetables
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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.