Men who are interested in sexual health (and what red-blooded male is not?) Want to keep their sperm in good health, especially if fatherhood is in the future plans. But protecting a man's sperm may be harder than a guy thinks. It turns out that men are routinely exposed to elements every day which can have a cumulative impact on sperm health and production.

New study

For example, a new study entitled “Human Semen Quality, Sperm DNA Damage, and the Level of Reproductive Hormones in Relation to Urinary Concentrations of Parabens” was recently published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The authors of this study collected both sperm and urine samples from more than 300 men who were patients at an infertility clinic.

Once they had the samples, the scientists took the sperm and ran tests to determine the level of quality from each sample. They then looked at the urine samples and tested those to determine the levels of 5 different “parabens,” additives that are often used in personal grooming products like toothpaste, shampoo, soaps, cosmetics, etc.

When they compared results, they found that if a man had high levels of parabens, he was much more likely to have a lower quality of sperm. This lower level of sperm quality mean the sperm may be poorly shaped and may not travel well inside the vagina. Higher levels of one particular paraben (called butylparaben) indicated a greater chance of DNA damage to the sperm. (The other parabens studied were ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben.)

Pthalates, too

Parabens are not the only chemical ingredients a guy needs to look out for. Many grooming and beauty products may also contain ingredients known as phthalates, which can do damage to sperm. The big problem with phthalates is that it's hard for consumers to identify them; they are often just listed as “fragrances” (which can cover a wide range of ingredients) without being specifically identified as phthalates. Lower sperm counts, irregular shapes and poor movement are thought to be associated with too much exposure to phthalates.

Pthalates do tend to turn up more often in female cosmetic products, but they're in some grooming products for men, too.

And hair dye

To complicate things even more, there's also lead acetate, another ingredient found in some grooming products. This is often included in hair coloring products, which more and more men are using nowdays.

What to do

In most (but not all cases), the amount of “sperm-toxic” ingredients in any one product is not enough not cause problems from a single use. However, repeated use, and the presence of ingredients in multiple products, can create a cumulative effect, such as that reported in the study cited above.

So if a guy wants to help protect his sperm quality, the first thing he should do is read the labels of his various grooming and health products to see if they list parabens, phthalates, lead acetate, etc. If they do, he then needs to investigate alternatives. Many health and beauty products are now made by companies that use only natural ingredients; a guy should still read the labels, but hopefully he can find replacements that are equally effective.

Keeping sperm healthy is only part of being in excellent sexual health. Maintaining the general well-being of the manhood through the use of an excellent penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin) is also advised. Men should read the ingredients label of these crème options as well and find one with L-arginine. This amino acid helps produce nitric oxide, which in turn helps open up penile blood vessels. Be sure the ingredients list also includes vitamin C. This popular vitamin is valuable for its role in collagen production, a tissue in the body that gives skin its tone and elasticity and is vital for penile erections.