Group of sperm cells swimming on green and blue background

Fellas, Please Stop Falling for These Sperm Myths

Enough with the semen retention, please
By Paul Schrodt
May 22, 2024

Sperm health has been tanking globally. In the last 50 years, sperm quality and quantity have declined by 62.3 percent, according to a recent study published in the journal Human Reproduction Update (1). And yet, it appears that most men know very little about their own sperm and fertility.

A report from the sperm testing company Legacy and Carrot Fertility reveals that a significant number of men are in the dark about sperm health and fertility. The companies surveyed 2,983 adults ages 18-65 about the topic, and what they discovered floored us. For starters, a whopping 70 percent of men surveyed didn’t know that their fertility declines with age.

Here are some of the most surprising findings from the report—along with information to set the record straight.

Nearly Three-Quarters of Men on TRT Don’t Know it Impacts Fertility

We’re starting with this one because it’s a topic close to our hearts.

In the survey, “72% of respondents believed that taking testosterone would improve a person’s fertility.” And nearly three-quarters of men currently undergoing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) aren’t aware that it can impact fertility.

The truth: As we’ve laid out in our guide to TRT and fertility, when a man has low T levels it can make it harder for a couple to conceive. But starting TRT can impact fertility by decreasing sperm count.

But here’s the good news: Treatments like Clomid can improve low T symptoms without diminishing your ability to have kids.

Checking your T levels is so easy with Hone’s at-home assessment that you can knock it out before hitting the gym. 

40% of Men Underestimated the Importance of Sperm Health in Conception

Your fifth-grade teacher probably explained you need both egg and sperm to make a baby, but some dudes didn’t get the memo. In the survey, 35% of men underestimated the role that male-factor infertility plays in conception.

The truth: Sperm health and sexual dysfunction are solely responsible for infertility in about 30% of infertility cases, according to 2022 research (2). It’s a contributing factor in another 20% of cases.

Only 18% Realize the Havoc Pollution Does to Their Sperm

In the survey, only 18% of respondents identified pollution as a factor affecting male fertility. No one likes smog, but apparently, most of us don’t understand its contribution to fertility issues.

The truth: As a University of Massachusetts Amherst environmental and reproductive epidemiologist points out, there’s a “wide body of research looking at air pollution and semen quality” suggesting that “exposure to air pollution may lead to poorer semen quality.”

What’s more, endocrine-disrupting chemicals that may be lurking in your home can cause lower testosterone, lower sperm count, and reduced sperm mobility. These endocrine disruptors can be found in common items like plastic bottles, food containers, and furniture. Five to avoid: phthalates, BPA, pesticides, POPs, and parabens.

57% Don’t Realize Booze Harms Sperm

In the sperm health report, only 43% of respondents correctly identified alcohol consumption as a factor in male fertility. Similarly, 47% identified smoking’s impact on male fertility.

The truth: Smoking can weaken sperm and make pregnancy harder for a couple to achieve, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A 2019 study determined that smoking “has devastating effects on semen parameters, thus reducing male fertility (3).

As for alcohol, it can hinder testosterone production, which can suppress sperm count. Independent of T, one study found that consuming more than five drinks per week can harm sperm count and lead to lower sperm quality (4).


25% Think Semen Retention Improves Fertility

Perhaps the oldest and most pervasive myth about fertility is still gripping Americans. A quarter of respondents in the report believed that reducing masturbation, a practice known as semen retention can improve fertility.

The truth: We’ve busted this myth before. There’s just no scientific data to back up the notion that semen retention is somehow good for your sperm. In fact, not ejaculating regularly can actually decrease sperm quality. So once more for the fellas in the back: Say “no” to No Fap.

Only 30% Know the Importance of Underwear

One in three respondents in the report identified “underwear choice” as a significant factor in male fertility. The rest are in the dark about their “briefs or boxers” decision.

The truth: As we’ve previously pointed out, wearing boxers has been linked to higher sperm count and concentration, compared to tighter briefs and boxer briefs. And some experts recommend going commando to maximize your fertility and chances to conceive