Saturated Fats Tied to Low Sperm Count

sperm_saturdated_fatA new study has connected higher consumption of saturated fat with lower sperm concentration and sperm count in young Danish men.  Through analyzing the diets and semen samples of about 700 military recruits with an average age of 20, researchers from Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen determined that those who consumed the most saturated fats had a 38% lower concentration of sperm and 41% lower sperm counts than those who ate the least fat. The men who got less than 11 percent of their calories from saturated fats had an average sperm concentration of 50 million per milliliter of semen and a total sperm count of about 163 million. Comparably, men who got more than 15 percent of their energy from saturated fats had an average of 45 million sperm per milliliter of semen and a 128 million count.

This study is not the first to connect diet or weight to sperm production and quality; however, many of the other studies have used data from men seeking fertility treatments, which may not be representative of all men. The majority of the men in the Danish study were motivated to participate by the cash incentive, not to learn about their fertility. While this study shows an association between fat intake and sperm quality, it can’t yet be determined that the increased fat caused the sperm count to be lower. “I think obesity is another cause, but saturated fats could also be a possible explanation,” said the study author. The next step is to find the mechanism by which saturated fat could influence sperm count, and then to see whether sperm counts improve when men cut down on saturated fat in their diets. Higher levels of saturated fats are often found in high-fat dairy products like butter, cheese, and whole milk. Choosing low fat dairy options and avoiding high-fat meats, and reading nutrition labels are steps recommended by the CDC.

Recently, Australian researchers looked at obesity in men and found that it has a negative effect on sperm, resulting in lower rates of conception, smaller fetuses, and reduced placental weight and development. Both of these studies highlight that the nutrition and body weight of the male partner may play a larger role in infertility than previously speculated. You can read more about the Australian study here.

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