Does Soy Affect Your Sperm Count?

If you consume soy on a regular basis, you may want to take a look at this new study coming out of Harvard School of Medical Health and published in Human Reproduction [1].

Soy Beans

According to researchers, men who regularly consume foods containing soy, soy milk, and soy isoflavones are more likely to suffer from a lower sperm count. Obese and overweight men are at the highest risks of decreased sperm concentration, as a result of soy consumption.

Previous studies have confirmed a decreased fertility in animals with a high consumption of soy, but conclusive data for humans is hard to come by. Therefore, researchers studied the diet of 99 men who went to Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center between the year 2000 and 2006. They looked at how much soy they consumed within a three month period, while simultaneously taking sperm samples.

They concluded that the men who ate soy foods in abundance, did indeed have a lower sperm concentration, approximately 41 million sperm/ml less when compared to those who did not consume any soy foods.

Researchers admit that their findings are preliminary; they are not completely sure why men who consumed soy foods had a lower sperm count. They suspect that, because soy foods have a high level of phytoestrogen, it increases the production of estrogen within their body, and may ultimately affect their overall sperm production.

Does Soy Affect Obese Men?

It’s already known that obese men naturally have higher estrogen levels [2]. Researchers from this new study are looking to find out if the consumption of soy foods may increase the estrogen level even more, perhaps even affecting their potential for reproduction.

It must be noted that there are many critics of this new study. Many people state that generations of Asian men have consumed soy foods, without experiencing fertility problems; this new study even states that soy foods do not appear to affect the mobility or overall quality of the sperm in question.

My Thoughts on Unfermented Soy Foods

It’s clear that more research is needed, before any definitive conclusion is made, but I have said for years that unfermented soy foods should be viewed with caution. The long-term benefits of soy are still unknown and soy is high in phytic acid, which can block the absorption of important minerals in certain people.

– Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Jorge E. Chavarro, Thomas L. Toth, Sonita M. Sadio, Russ Hauser. Soy food and isoflavone intake in relation to semen quality parameters among men from an infertility clinic. Oxford Journals Hum. Reprod. (2008) 23 (11): 2584-2590.
  2. GEORGE SCHNEIDER, MARVIN A. KIRSCHNER, RICHARD BERKOWITZ, NORMAN H. ERTEL. Increased Estrogen Production in Obese Men. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 1978 May 17 vol. 48 no. 4 633-638.

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  • Ben

    It’s a good thing that I don’t eat much Soy! I’ve always heard mixed opinions about the benefits of soy. Alot of people I know eat it for the protein, but then experience other problems.

    I don’t have the expertise to understand if soy is reallly healthy or not. In fact, I never knew there was such thing as unfermented soy foods… Do grocery stores mainly sell unfermented soy products? Does it say that certain soy foods are unfermented on the back?

  • Christopher

    oh man… I love Soy! This is not good…

    My wife and I have been trying to have a baby, but no success since she got off the pill. Maybe the soy foods is playing a role in this.

    I’ve also never heard of unfermented soy.

  • http://fatparent.com nata

    That is bad news for us soy lovers.

    I love eating soy products especially soy milk. I always thought it was healthy

  • Scott

    I’ve heard that there is relatively low danger in natural soy products like edamame and tofu. The more processing (i.e. soy milk, soy burgers, etc.) the worse it is for you. I have recently gone pescaterian, so I’ve done a little research on the matter. If you stick to the minimally-processed foods, you should be ok.

  • Mississippi Medigap

    We always hear the benefits of soy, so it’s good to hear the drawbacks too. Thank you for this, very informative!

  • Joannah

    I am a female with decent sized breasts. Wen I eat/drink to much soy products not only do my breasts get larger, my whole body gets puffy. I am a very healthy eater, but I def. keep soy out of my diet.

  • Gwen

    I’ve always avoided Tofu, and other soy products because they seem so unnatural. But still, I’m surprised to hear of so many problems it can cause.

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  • sm

    hmmm. how does that work for baby boys on soy formula?

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