Processed meats may affect male fertility

2 min read

A new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers found that frequent consumption of processed meats may harm a man’s ability to fertilize an egg, while eating more poultry may improve his chances.

The study was published online August 5, 2015 in Fertility & Sterility.

Researchers led by Wei Xia, a visiting scientist in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, tracked diet and health information from 141 men undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) with their female partners at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The researchers found a link between frequent processed meat consumption and lower fertilization among men participating in an IVF procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) — commonly used when infertility is on the male side. Among this group, men who ate the least amount of processed meats (fewer than 1.5 servings a week) had a 28% better chance of achieving pregnancy when compared to men who ate the most processed meats (4.3 servings a week).

The researchers also found that men who ate the most poultry had 13% higher fertilization rates than those who ate the least amount of poultry. This association was found in both the group using ICSI and in men using conventional IVF.