Warning To Dudes: Cigarettes And Booze Can Mangle Your Sperm

Despite what the Daily Mail is encouraging these days, most women attempting to get knocked up are advised to stay away from alcohol and cigarettes. Well a new study shows that men looking to sperminate a lady might want to stay off the toxins, too. According to research done at the University of Idaho, chemically-damaged sperm can pass altered genes to future generations. The future defects included overgrown prostates, infertility and kidney problems — all of which were present up to four generations later, says the Guardian. Both tobacco and excessive amounts of alcohol can find their way into seminal fluid, says professor Cynthia Daniels of Rutgers, who has written books on reproduction.

"If I was a young man I would not drink beer, I would not be smoking when I'm trying to conceive a child," Daniels told the BBC. "There are many potential sources of harm to foetal health that remain unexamined. When 60% of birth defects are of unknown origin, why are we not examining one obvious potential source of harm?" the professor reasons.

Even without outside carcinogens, many sperm have defects, according to Slate, because of the body's furious sperm production schedule. It's "a manufacturing decision that sacrifices quality control." Another new study quoted by Slate says that men produce so much sperm to counteract cheatin' women — the massive amounts of semen are created to compete with other dudes' sperm. Apparently in the animal world, the idea of "sperm competition" is old hat; "male flour beetles have spiny penises designed to remove rival sperm from a female's reproductive tract," says Slate. The coronal ridge (the space between the head and the shaft of the penis) in humans is also built to remove rival sperm. Who knew?!

Women in New York City might want to be checking out rival sperm banks, as some local ones have not been inspected since 2004, according to Gothamist. One bank in particular, Idant Laboratories, failed to pass on information to a customer about the high-risk sexual behavior of a donor, and many of the labs are not thoroughly checking the sperm before and after purchase for sexually transmitted or genetic diseases.

So ladies, whether you're getting your sperm the old fashioned way or making a withdrawal from your local sperm depot, make sure you investigate the source. But there's a silver lining if your man is a total lush and you want to get pregs: Sperm is produced continuously in a 74-day cycle, so in less than three months, those drunk-ass semen can get washed away in a cleansing tide of kombucha and green tea.

Drink And Drugs Can Damage Men's Sperm, Study Suggests [Guardian]
Sperm Damage 'Passed To Children' [BBC]
The Merry Band Of Wrigglers: Men, Women, Passion, And Sperm. [Slate]
City Awash In Bad Sperm [Gothamist]