Who knows what makes some myths so persistent, but once rumors start to fly, they can spread – and stick. There are a lot of rumors that fly around about what can hurt or help male fertility, but not all of them have much to do with reality.
Common male fertility myths and facts
Here we’ll break down three pretty persistent myths, and give you all the juicy TTC truth.
Boxers or briefs?
The notion that prospective dads should wear boxers and loose-fitting pants is fairly widespread, which is probably because there is a scientific basis for it. Exposing testicles to high heat for extended periods of time can interfere with sperm quality, but it has yet to be scientifically proven that the temperature in close-fitting clothing is high enough to do any damage. So while it can’t hurt to choose looser clothing options, there’s no guarantee that this will help either. Prospective fathers are better off avoiding hot tubs, saunas, and other high-temperature situations.
Just a number?
We often hear stories about men in their 60s and 70s fathering children, and though this certainly happens, it is very much not the norm. A 2006 study reported that sperm quality begins to decline around 35, and that pregnancies involving older fathers carry a higher risk of miscarriage.
Quality over quantity
Some rumors suggest that sperm count may take a toll if an individual ejaculates too often. However, most doctors now believe that a dad-to-be probably doesn’t need to hold off for more than a few hours or a day before go-time. In fact, a 2005 study concluded that abstaining ten days before ejaculation could actually hurt sperm count, and that just one day of abstinence may give the best possible sperm sample.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Male infertility: causes.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Apr 11 2015. Web.
- “Drugs and male fertility.” ClevelandClinic. Cleveland Clinic, May 22 2013. Web.
- Vinod H. Nargund. “Effects of psychological stress on male fertility.” Nature Reviews Urology. 12, 373-382. Web. Jun 9 2015.