February 1st, 2016
Attention carnivores—if you are trying to conceive with your partner lay off processed meat. A recent study found that those men who consumed a lot of processed, red meat such as sausage and bacon had poorer success rates than those who ate mostly poultry. The study does not prove causality merely that a link exists. Lots of other studies have illustrated a connection between diet and fertility. But it can be hard to isolate exactly how much each food item affects the male reproductive system.
President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Dr. Rebecca Sokol wrote a press release about this study. She said it suggests such meat makes it more difficult for fertilization to occur. Eating a healthy diet is not only best for reproductive health she wrote, but overall health as well. Other physicians are considering adding a ban on processed meat to the list of recommendations they give those patients desiring fatherhood. Other items include quitting smoking, decreasing alcohol consumption, exercising regularly, and losing weight.
Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, led by Dr. Wei Xia conducted the study. They followed the cases of 141 couples undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) at Massachusetts General Hospital. The male partners filled out a questionnaire including questions about their diet, such as their weekly meat consumption and what kinds of meat they ate. There was no correlation between the total amount of meat consumption and the success of IVF. However, those men who ate the most fowl were 13% more successful than those who ate the least amount of poultry.
Some doctors say that it could be those who consumed more chicken may have an overall healthier diet than those who ate more processed meat. But today most doctors would agree that it is a good idea to avoid such meat when trying to conceive. Any couple trying for six months to a year without success should seek out a medical professional. 50% of the time the problem comes from the male side of the equation. Men who have been trying with their partner for this long or longer should speak with their doctor or an urologist.