The 4 Biggest Fertility Myths, Busted By Science

It’s the traditional measure of a man: procreate and leave behind a living legacy. But what happens when you get the diagnosis that you can’t be a dad?

Urologist Amir Zarrabi says there can be a myriad of reasons behind male infertility, from incurable genetic defects to bad habits such as smoking and drug use. “Modern life may play a role in dwindling fertility,” says Zarrabi. “We live in a faster, more stressful world, and stress has been shown to reduce a man’s testosterone levels and lower his sperm counts.”

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Chromosomal abnormalities are among the most severe conditions causing infertility in men. These typically affect the growth of the testicles, stunting or completely eradicating sperm production. In most cases, the effects of chromosomal abnormalities are irreversible. The good news? According to a study on chromosomal disorders and male infertility published in the Asian Journal of Andrology, just 0.6% of the population is affected by chromosomal aberrations. The bad news? Scientists are quickly uncovering new genetic disorders that could be linked to infertility, so that previous unknown variable could be chalked up to an incurable cause.

Damage to the testicles can also lower your sperm count. However, that cricket ball you took square to the gonads back in high school is unlikely to affect your testicular functions. Same goes for laptops and cellphones which have long been vilified for emitting sperm-vaporising radiation. There have been numerous studies, but none have shown that either pose a major threat to male fertility.

Related: 7 Things You Do Every Day That Destroy Your Sperm

Here we breakdown the four biggest fertility myths, backed by science:

1. Laptops

According to a study published in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility in 2010, exposing your testicles to consistent and high heat can affect the quality and quantity of your sperm. Researchers at the State University of New York found that while perching your laptop on your lap could discourage sperm formation, moderate usage did not project enough heat to negatively affect your fertility. Keep your laptop lap sessions to a minimum and use a desk when you can.

2. Cycling

Worried that your stints in the saddle may be tanking your sperm count? While researchers at University College London found that the tight lycra in combination with seat pressure could lower sperm counts or result in abnormal sperm, technological advances in the development of saddles and cycling equipment have lowered that risk. If you are training for a long-distance ride, invest in a high quality saddle and breathable fabrics.

Related: I Had A Vasectomy. This Is What It’s Really Like

3. Masturbation

A surprisingly high number of men and women believe that regular masturbation can have a negative impact on your sperm count. However, because men’s bodies produce sperm at a steady rate, ejaculating does not have any impact on your sperm, according to a study published by the European Society of Human Production and Embryology. In fact, their research found that ejaculating at least once a day could improve your sperm’s swimming ability.

4. Tight Underwear

Think those briefs are restricting your sperm count? A study published by the Department of Urology at the State University of New York found that while tighter underwear can cause your testicles to heat up, the change in temperature isn’t enough to affect sperm production.

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