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Is Soy Sabotaging Your Sperm?

Soy has long been a staple in many diets, celebrated for its health benefits and versatility. But in recent years, concerns have arisen about its potential impact on fertility, particularly in men. Is there any truth to these worries? In this blog, we’ll delve into the evidence surrounding soy and male fertility to help you make informed decisions about your diet.

 

What’s in Soy that Links to Fertility?

Soybeans and soy-based products contain isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens — plant compounds that can mimic the hormone estrogen in the body. This similarity has led to questions about whether consuming soy could disrupt hormonal balance, potentially affecting fertility.

 

The Evidence: Soy and Male Fertility

Hormonal Effects

You might intuitively think that high consumption of soy products might influence hormone levels in men, such as Testosteron. However, a meta analysis published in the journal “Reproductive Toxicology” found that neither soy nor isoflavone intake affects male reproductive hormones. This study investigated the findings of 41 peer-reviewed studies between 2010 and 2020, and found that regardless of the isoflavone dose or the duration of the studies, no significant effect was found.

 

Sperm Quality and Count

Research on soy’s direct impact on sperm quality and count is mixed. A 2010 study into soy, phyto-oestrogens and male reproductive function found some indication that phyto-oestrogens may alter spermatogenesis and fertility, but warn of the interpretation of these results, since so many reports do not reveal any adverse affects, and call for further investigation to be made into this topic.

In a 2008 study published in the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers found that higher intake of soy foods and isoflavones was linked to lower sperm concentration, especially in men with normal or high sperm counts and those who are overweight or obese. However, soy and isoflavone intake were not related to sperm motility, morphology or ejaculate volume.

Conversely, a meta-analysis published in “Fertilitet och sterilitet” reviewed multiple studies and concluded that neither soy foods nor isoflavone supplements had a significant effect on spermieantal, concentration, or motilitet . This suggests that moderate soy consumption is unlikely to impair male fertility.

 

Soy and Women’s Fertility

While the primary focus of this particular article is on men, it’s worth noting that phytoestrogens can also affect women. Some research indicates that soy may influence menstrual cycles and ovulation due to its estrogen-like effects. A 2022 review of 23 studies found a weak, not clinically relevant effect of soy on cycle length and hormonal status, and may have a favourable effect on those seeking pregnancy, although further investigation is needed.

 

Practical Takeaways

Moderation is Key

The current body of evidence suggests that moderate consumption of soy products is unlikely to harm male fertility or female fertility. As with many dietary components, balance is essential. Including soy as part of a varied diet can provide numerous other health benefits (such as weight management, digestive health and blood pressure regulation) without negatively impacting reproductive health.

 

Individual Differences

Each person’s response to dietary components can vary. If you have specific concerns about soy and fertility, consider discussing them with a healthcare provider or a nutritionist. They can offer personalized advice based on your overall health and dietary habits.

 

Test Your Sperm for Changes in Total Motile Sperm Count

Checking that your sperm health is above the ‘normal’ threshold should be the starting point when it comes to male fertility. Maybe you’ve recently become vegan and subsequently have found your soy intake has increased – with a test such as the ExSeed at hem spermietest you can check for changes in your sperm parameters over time. This method is much more affordable and convenient compared with private in-clinic tests.

While high soy intake might influence hormone levels and sperm concentration, moderate consumption appears safe for most men. If you’re trying to conceive and concerned about soy’s impact on fertility, maintaining a balanced diet and consulting with healthcare professionals is the best approach.

ExSeed spermatest

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