Eating processed meat regularly can affect a man’s fertility, researchers reveal.(Stefano A/Flickr)Stefano A/Flickr

Eating processed meat regularly can affect a man's fertility, researchers reveal.

Harvard University researchers in the US found that excess consumption of mince, bacon, hamburgers and sausages decreased sperm count in men, while white fish helped improve semen quality, The Telegraph reported.

"We found that processed meat intake was associated with lower semen quality and fish was to higher semen quality," Dr Myriam Afeiche, from the Department of Nutrition, at Harvard School of Public Health, told The Telegraph.

Nearly 156 men participated in the study and all of them have long been experiencing difficulties in conceiving. Dr Myriam Afeiche and colleagues collected information about the participants' food habits and nature of their sperm (size and shape).

Men, who consumed a rasher of bacon daily, had lower amounts of normal sperm compared to others. Intake of less than a rasher of bacon improved sperm count by 30 percent.  

However, the researchers couldn't fully explain the factors that led to this occurrence. According to one argument, pesticide content in red meat may be interfering with hormones, further affecting fertility and the high levels of zinc in white fish may be helping improve fertility, Daily Mail reported.

The study will be presented this week, at the meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Boston.

The findings strengthen the importance of a healthy lifestyle in improving male fertility. Studies have shown that unhealthy lifestyle, including excess intake of soda lowered sperm count in men. According to Dr Allan Pacey, former chairman of the British Fertility Society, addiction to alcohol or cocaine can harm DNA of the sperm, further affecting its ability to swim.

Health experts at the Mayo Clinic in the US said that a healthy sperm produced via a healthy lifestyle is crucial for pregnancy success.

They recommend men who are planning to start a family:

  • Stick to a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables
  • Engage in regular exercise, abstain from smoking, drinking alcohol and exposure to stress
  • Follow safe sex, by using condom, avoiding multiple sex partners as sexually transmitted diseases can damage fertility
  • Shed the extra weight as obesity affects sperm count and movement
  • Avoid using tight underwear or shorts, hot tubs, saunas, steam bath, sitting for long or placing the laptop on one's lap for long as increased scrotal temperature can damage sperm quality
  • Try to avoid lubricants like saliva, lotions or jelly during sex and replace them with a safer option like peanut or vegetable oil or lubricant Pre-Seed.