A new study finds that men involved in fertility treatment who ate a lot of processed meats had lower success fertilizing a women’s egg.
Many studies have shown that diet can affect human fertility, but our diets are so complex that it is difficult to tease out how particular food types may affect reproductive outcomes, Dr. Rebecca Sokol, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, told HealthDay in a statement.
She continued, This study suggests that the type of meat a man consumes may influence his sperm’s ability to fertilize an egg. Eating a healthy diet is an easy change to make, and worth making for reproductive health as well as overall health.
Dr. Wei Xia of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health tracked the outcomes for 141 men from couples undergoing in vitro fertilization at Massachusetts General Hospital. The men told researchers about their diet, total meat intake and the types of meat they ate.
Xia’s team found no association between the men’s total meat consumption and the rate of successful fertilization, HealthDay reports. However, researchers found differences among men who ate poultry and processed meat.
The fertilization for IVF and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) was 13 percent higher among men who ate the most poultry, compared to those who ate the least amount – 78 percent to 65 percent.
Among processed meats, the study found that the fertilization rate for IVF without ICSI was 28 percent higher among men who ate the least amount of processed meat, compared to those who ate the most – 82 percent to 54 percent.
The study did find though, that men’s success rates in IVF with ICSI were not affected among those who ate processed meat.
One of the reasons the study may have found more successful outcomes in the men undergoing fertility treatments who ate chicken over bacon is that chicken-eaters may have an overall healthier diet and lifestyle than bacon-eaters,” Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, a urology specialist at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital, told HealthDay. “Perhaps it is not the meat that is the problem, but the dietary choices that men who eat bacon make. Healthier dietary choices usually correlates with a healthier lifestyle, which may overall increase fertility outcomes.