Fact and Fiction About Male Fertility

You've probably heard a lot of stories about what affects male fertility and the causes of infertility in men. Here's a look at some of the myths and truths.

Men Have Fertility Cycles

Experts don't agree on whether this is fact or fiction. Sperm production tends to increase in cooler temperatures, so sperm count is often higher in the winter than in the summer. Time of day can affect sperm counts as well since they tend to be higher in the morning when men's hormone levels are higher. But there's no concrete proof of male fertility cycles in the same way that women have fertility cycles.

Cycling Can Affect Fertility

This is true, but not to the extent that men need to quit cycling. Scrotal temperatures can rise when sitting on a bicycle which compacts the genital area and doesn't allow for air circulation. The rise in the scrotal temperature can temporarily reduce sperm production. The same is true with sitting in a hot tub or sauna or even having a laptop on your lap for extended periods of time. Men trying to conceive don't necessarily need to give up cycling (although sauna and hot tub use should be restricted), but take breaks from cycling every 30 minutes and choose a seat that shifts the weight to your buttocks.

Weight Does Not Affect Male Fertility

False. Obesity affects the body's ability to create sperm, but so does being underweight. The average man who is underweight tends to have nutritional deficiencies which can affect hormonal balances and ultimately sperm production. Men with an optimal body mass index (BMI) of 20 to 25 tend to have better sperm production and more normal sperm. Men who are overweight or underweight should talk about healthy ways to lose the weight or gain more.

Lubricants Increase Sperm Mobility

False. The slickness of lubricants reduces friction which can make sex more pleasurable, but their slickness doesn't help sperm move faster. The ingredients in the lubricants coat the sperm and can slow them down. Sometimes the ingredients in sexual lubricants are toxic to sperm and can kill them.

If lubricants are necessary for enjoyable sex, talk to your doctor about alternatives if trying to conceive. Sometimes vegetable oils are recommended.

Briefs Can Cause Infertility

True. Form fitting underwear holds the testes closer to the body which can temporarily reduce sperm production. Research isn't clear how significant the reduction in sperm production is, but it can't hurt to wear looser-fitting underwear like boxers if you're trying to conceive.


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