Many folks have heard that those Preparation H requiring, obscenely narrow sprint bicycle seats are associated with erectile dysfunction, and that certain antidepressants can cause DNA damage in sperm. But in our everyday lives we encounter many more sperm slayers as well. What is more, the havoc they wreak can range from scrambling the DNA of your favorite swimmers to interfering with, well, their ability to swim.
The good news, according to a recent expose on the matter, is that you can do something about most of them. Here’s a summary of the most common “sex offenders” and the steps you can take to protect the troops:
Heated car seats-For the unfortunate souls who live in the Midwest and Northeast, few luxuries are more welcome than a heated car seat. But those contraptions are frying your sperm, plain and simple. The same goes for strategically placed heating pads and lengthy spells in a hot tub. Sperm production, it turns out, is done best at temperatures several degrees below normal body temperature…that’s why a man’s package hangs down like it does in the first place. External heat sources defeat nature’s way, guys.
What to do: Jack-up the car heater and bag the heated seat whenever possible. And don’t fall asleep in the hot tub.
Morning Ablutions-Your soap and shampoo most likely contain phthalates, which are organic compounds that interfere with male hormone synthesis and have been associated with infertility, birth defects, and other nasty things. Phthalates are also in your vinyl shower curtain and probably in the tile cleaner you’re using to clean the shower (if you clean the shower, that is). As an added bonus, the heat from your shower helps release these chemicals.
What to do: Use organic or plain, unscented soaps and shampoos. If a personal care product has a scent, it probably contains phthalates. Check the labels on the soaps and shampoos you do buy. Look for the word “phthalate” or its many aliases, which include DMP, DEP, DAP and DPP. If you can afford it, go with the glass door on the shower. It’s more aesthetically pleasing and less prone to flooding, anyway.
Sex toys-Sadly, these handy gadgets also contain phthalates. The worst offenders are those containing so-called “jelly-rubber,” or vinyl. Most dildos and vibrators are in this category. What a bummer.
What to do: Go with products made of silicone or glass. Remember, this affects your partner, too.
Cash register receipts-Nearly half of them are coated with bisphenol-A (BPA), an estrogen-like chemical that has been linked to erectile dysfunction, loss of sexual desire and ejaculation difficulties, not to mention heart disease (we have covered various BPA stories over the years, most recently here and here).
What to do: If you really need receipts, store them in an envelope rather than a pocket or your wallet, so you’re not constantly handling them. For extra credit, don’t recycle receipts, because BPA leaches from them into landfills and eventually finds its way into the water supply.
Metal cans-They are probably the biggest source of BPA exposure. The cans contain resins of BPA which leach into the food they contain, especially if it is acidic like tomato sauce.
What to do: Choose fresh or frozen food instead of the canned variety when possible, or buy foods in glass jars.
Pesticides-They kill pests, it’s true, but they can invalidate your precious cargo via the same chemical pathways.
What to do: This is why your annoying neighbors planted that annoying organic garden on the edge of your property. If you won’t accept their annoying food gifts or pay for organic groceries at the market, at least wash the food you do buy.