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Does Being a Vegetarian Lower your Fertility?

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Does Being a Vegetarian Lower your Fertility?
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For couples who are trying to become pregnant, there are many things that they must keep in mind. They must know the right foods to eat, keep track of the best time to have intercourse, and make sure that they are taking the right types of vitamins. However, a new study is now showing that men who are vegetarians or vegans have even something more to worry about.

According to the American Society for reproductive medicine, research was conducted by Loma Linda University medical school in Southern California involving vegetarians and non-vegetarians in regards to their sperm motility, overall health and concentration levels. The information that was provided by this study has introduced the need for further research regarding vegetarian men.

1. What did the research find?

Although the research only involved a few handfuls of vegetarians and vegans, it was found that they had an average sperm count of about 50 million per milliliter. Men who consumed meat, however, averaged closer to 70 million per milliliter. When it came to sperm motility, vegetarians average 33% versus the 58% that the others averaged.

research-shows-that-men-who-relied-on-a-vegetarian-diet-were-less-likely-to-have-high-sperm-counts-and-high-sperm-motility-ratesIt is important to note that these low numbers still did not put vegetarians and vegans into the infertility range, but simply a lower range of the normal bracket. This research showed that men who relied on a vegetarian diet were less likely to have high sperm counts and high sperm motility rates.

2. Why is this a factor?

After this study was conducted, researchers began looking for a reason that vegetarian and vegan diets would cause these numbers in men. One of the thoughts that came to mind was that men who relied on this type of diet had lower amounts of B12 than those who consumed meat.

less-intake-of-vitamin-b12-will-lower-fertilityIt was also thought that the diet itself may be causing these issues in some men. Because the diets are so drastically different, it is possible that the diet itself can cause differences with the man’s sperm because of the different nutrients that they are receiving.

3. More studies

By no means is this study conclusive because the sample size of the men was extremely low compared to that of the men who consumed meat. Because of this, further research is required in order to determine the true effect that a man’s diet has a on his sperm count.

Other-studies-have-shows-that-men-who-consume-large-amounts-of-soy-milk-have-seen-an-effect-on-their-sex-hormone-balanceOther studies have shown that men who consume large amounts of soy milk have seen an effect on their sex hormone balance. These men have often seen a decrease in their libido and have even noticed erectile dysfunction at times. However, the amounts of soy milk that were studied greatly exceeded the amount of soy milk that is usually consumed by vegetarians.

For the most part, normal to moderately high amounts of soy seem to be safe for most men and will not affect their sperm or libido. In many cases, it actually has the ability to lower the risk of prostate cancer and some cardiovascular diseases. However, initial results of this study suggest that further analysis may be necessary.

4. Ways vegetarians can become more fertile

If you are vegetarian and are looking for ways to improve your chances of having a high sperm count and motility rate, there are certain things that you can consume in order to give yourself a bit of a boost in this area.

take-a-vitamin-B12-supplement-in-order-to-improve-your-levels-of-this-important-nutrientFor example, you can take a vitamin B12 supplement in order to improve your levels of this important nutrient. Since the researchers of this study have determined that one of the leading causes of low sperm count in vegetarians and vegans is related to vitamin B12, taking this as a supplement becomes very important.

5. Conclusion

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you may want to consider addressing your diet with your doctor in order to make sure that your sperm count is where it needs to be while you and your partner are trying to conceive. There may be some additional nutrients and vitamins that you need to take during this time in order to make sure that you have the right items that will protect the health of your reproductive journey.

For the most part, it appears that a vegetarian diet does not make a man infertile, but it may have the possibility of making it more difficult to become pregnant. Even though men are still in the normal range, they do appear to be on the lower end of this range and some adjustments to their diet may be necessary.



Dr. Lynette Weiss is ConceiveEasy's Senior Physician and Scientific Director. She is certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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