30 July 2008

Sperm Counts and Soy

I think I have found an excuse for why it took me more than five years to get my better half pregnant! A research study out of the Harvard School of Public Health at Harvard University is suggesting that the eating and drinking of products that contain a lot of soy or isoflavones has a negative impact on fertility in men. To all out there that do not understand what this means, then in lay person's terms more soy equals less sperm!

There have not been many studies into this, and this particular study is but the third to be completed. Nevertheless, the idea that there is a causal relationship between the eating of soy and the reduction in sperm is an interesting one. I need to get a copy of the study and have a look at who the subjects were. Indonesians for example eat a lot of soy-based products. Since I have been living here in Indonesia, soy has always been a staple and has always been present in just about every meal that I have had. I love the Indonesian forms of soy and regularly eat tahu and tempe.

It seems that soy contains isoflavones, an organic compound which acts like female hormones, which then appears to impact negatively on a man's ability to produce sperm. The science is that the isoflavones in soy are structurally similar in the chemical sense to estrogen and then serve to mimic the way estrogen acts in the human body.

The study involved 99 test subjects all who were involved in a relationship where there were difficulties in conceiving. There was an "inverse" association between soy intake and sperm concentration. This inverse association was distinguishable even after other factors such as age, abstinence, caffeine, BMI, and alcohol were taken out of the equation. The average man has a sperm count of between 80 and 120 million per millilitre whereas the soy consuming subjects had an average sperm count of just 41 million per millilitre.

I guess the next time I am contemplating getting into the baby making game then it is time to swear off the soy.

7 comments:

Katadia said...

In the 1970s, I am sure tahu tempe were regular features in the meja makan. Total fertility rate was 5.5 back in 1970. Now that it's around 2, I doubt it's because of more tahu/tempe consumption :)

Posmena Sales said...

Here is a link for Underpants with Design Features to increase sperm count:
- here

Rob Baiton said...

Katadia...

Nah, this was what I was thinking as well, but then I am not one to be arguing with the science. I have not the expertise or the ability to discredit it.

Posmena Sales...

Thanks for dropping by. I will be sure to check out the link.

GJ said...

Remember a poor tradesmen always blames his tools.

Just joking please take no offense, please!!

Rob Baiton said...

No offence taken...can't take offence at the truth!

Anonymous said...

This is a very weak study. Did you know that 72% of the men in that study were overweight? That is another factor in having a low sperm count. I wouldn't rely on any tests that are done. There is usually something wrong with those studies. Consider the people in Japan and China who eat 1-2 servings of soy every day, and have very little meat in their diet. They don't have the health problems that we have in America. The Okinawa Japanese are the healthiest and longest living people in the world. Quit believing everything you read, or hear. The way I look at it: if God made it, eat it. If man made it, then beware. That is another factor not considered in the study. Was the soy that they were eating genetically engineered? (two-thirds to three-quarters of the soy that is grown in the U.S. is genetically engineered.) Do your own research before jumping to conclusions. There would be much less confusion if people would use common sense, instead of relying on one or two "tests".

Rob Baiton said...

Anonymous...

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

The piece is very much tongue in cheek in that I talk about it being just the excuse I need to explain the inability to get the better half preggers.

I also point out there has been limited research in this area.

The fact that researchers are trying to establish a causal link is still interesting.

I would hope that a future study looks at those communities where there is a high soy intake and also look at the types of soy consumed.

I still am not going to argue with the science because I just do not have the expertise. I also thought about the Indonesians and the Japanese, both of human have pretty respectable fertility rates, but my views in this area would be anecdotal at best as I do not have the science to back up any causal link between soy and increased fertility...

Cheers and enjoy the weekend!