Does red meat affect male fertility?

“Want to be a dad? Cut out sausages and eat chicken,” the Daily Mail reports, prompted by the findings of a recent study into diet and fertility outcomes for couples undergoing fertility treatment.

red meat

This study analysed the diets of 141 men attending a fertility clinic with their partners for help getting pregnant.

Sperm from men who reported a diet high in processed meat had less success fertilising eggs in the laboratory. But sperm from men who ate more chicken were more successful.

Crucially, however, none of these variations in diet affected the chance of the couples becoming pregnant after treatment, or having a baby.

This means the study cannot prove that processed meat causes lower male fertility or that chicken boosts it.

These associations could be valid, but there might also be other factors involved. And men who choose to avoid eating processed meat may also be healthy in other ways.

That said, eating a healthy, balanced diet low in processed meat certainly can’t hurt in terms of boosting male fertility.

Other methods include quitting smoking if you smoke, moderating your consumption of alcohol, and avoiding things that warm up your testicles, such as wearing tight underwear or having hot showers or baths, all of which can affect sperm production.