The common household chemical bisphenol A (BPA) can lower sperm counts and motility, according to a study in Reproductive Toxicology. Food packaging is a major source of BPA, which can seep into the food. Most food cans are coated with BPA resin, and acidic canned foods are especially risky.
Certain plastics, including vinyl used in some sex toys, release phthalates — plastic-softening chemicals that have been tied to lower reduced sperm count and quality. Glass, silicone and green sex toys are a safer bet.
Phthalates are found in many shampoos, soaps, deodorants and shaving creams. Look for natural, phthlate-free products instead.
It’s not surprising that smoking cigarettes is bad for sperm, but smoking weed isn’t much better. Heavy marijuana smokers have been found to have significantly lower sperm counts and sperm with bad swimming strategies.
Stress can cut sperm count dramatically by inhibiting the production of testosterone.
Women aren’t the only ones who should slow down on drinking while trying to conceive. Alcohol can inhibit sperm production and lower sperm counts.
BPA is found on about 40 percent of cash register receipts, according to a 2010 University of Missouri study. The chemical can penetrate skin or be passed from hand to mouth to the digestive track. Skip the receipt or wash your hands after signing.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a group of toxic chemicals that have been banned but have accumulated in certain fish — especially predator fish and bottom-feeders. They are associated with decreased sperm counts and integrity. Smaller, younger fish are considered safer.
Chemicals called perfluoroalkyl acids are used in the manufacturing of nonstick products such as Teflon, Gore-Tex and wax paper and can significantly lower sperm counts, according to a Danish study.
Of course not having sex at all won’t help, but some couples abstain for days or weeks in hopes of saving sperm until the woman is ovulating. This doesn’t work. Researchers have found that while it does take a day or two for sperm to replenish themselves after ejaculation, waiting any longer than that can cause them to lose motility and change shape.