Want to boost your potency? There's plenty of theories, but don't believe everything you read.
1. Ditch the bike (cycling is hell on your balls): MYTH
If you’re not sick of MAMILs by now (and you should be) then you’re definitely tired after a decade of brain-numbing jokes about them. (Seriously, you might as well still be shouting, “TAXI!”. Stop.)
Middle-aged men in Lycra are the easiest of targets — literally. They’re always being mown down by road-raging berks, emoji-texting morons, or women looking at flowers on their phone. But the rise of MAMILs isn’t to blame for the country’s historically low birth rate — even though, for years, the jostling a of a rider’s family jewels on his saddle was thought to adversely affect his swimmers.
A comprehensive 2014 study of 5000 male UK cyclists found exactly zero link between how often you peddle and your ability to produce an heir. In fact, the associated fitness benefits are actually thought to increase your chances overall.
2. Avoid lathering on sunscreen too thickly — it’s poison to your l’il swimmers: MYTH
Australian social researchers have noted that a man’s ability to evenly distribute SPF 50+ is dramatically affected by fatherhood, but scientists remain dubious whether pre-conception lathering has any impact on your own man lotion.
“While there is a valid discussion to be had about the harmful chemicals in sunscreen and other lotions, these chemicals are not proven to lower sperm count,” says Melbourne IVF doctor Alex Polyakov.
3. Ingesting trace elements of Tupperware, Glad Wrap, or non-stick-frypan reduces your potency: MYTH
Plastic is everywhere. By 2050 there will be more of it in the ocean than fish. This sucks for anyone who hopes to live on a viable planet capable of sustaining both fish and non-fish-based life.
But while plastic may kill us all, ingesting trace elements of it probably won’t stop you from adding a sprog or two of your own to the general population. Good news! Fire the glitter cannons! Into the ocean! Take that, stupid fish.
“Although there are issues over the influence of plastics and chemicals on health and wellbeing,[linking plastics] directly to low sperm count is far from conclusive,” says male fertility consultant Paul Serhal.
“None of these elements are likely to be the root cause of problems for couples desperate to conceive.”
4. Embrace veganism/vegetarianism. Red meat is code red for conception: MYTH
Those typically f*cking annoying evangelist vegans are right: an entirely plant-based regimen is capable of meeting almost everyone’s dietary needs, and may add decades to your life.
But what fun is there in a long-but-joyless existence, all pale and anaemic, too joyless to take pleasure from anything but your scratchy hemp cardigan, and your djembes, and your Prius, and yeah whatever other worn-out old comedy tropes from the ’90s we’re using now.
Unfortunately, however, eating animals actually has a very positive impact on your sperm count, according to a 2014 study by California’s Loma Linda University Medical School.
That research demonstrated that a “vegetarian diet reduced sperm concentration and motility [although] did not extend into the infertile range”.
Only a third of a meat-dodger’s sperm is active (compared to 60 per cent of omnivores’). The boffins behind that study have mandated further testing, but those professors were hardly peddling an anti-vego agenda: Loma Linda is a Seventh-day Adventist college — a religion that has meat avoidance as a main tenet.
5. Missionary is the prime pregnancy position (and it’s even better if she lays on her back with her legs in the air afterwards): MYTH
There’s no reason not to do this — the sex is a bit dull, but watching her wave her legs about like a Mortein-ed roach afterwards might be worth the laugh. In terms of her plumbing, though, that’s not how any of this works.
The angle of her pelvis to the Earth is inconsequential. Like salmon, sperm are genetically programmed to swim upstream, if they need to, but unlike salmon — soon to be outnumbered by plastics — the little guys don’t exhaust their efforts doing so, and nor are they usually plucked off by bears or fly-fishermen.
Boris Becker, if you remember, impregnated a woman in a one-off-shag in a stand-up closet that lasted a few seconds. Deep penetration is helpful, though. Bury the bishop as deeply as his statue allows when he’s dispensing the altar wine.
6. Swallowing your semen will make her more likely to fall pregnant (to you): (ER kinda) TRUE
“You gotta admire the creativity of the guy who started this rumour,” mocked thebump.com’s Kaitlin Stanford.
“A note to the husbands out there who are contemplating using this little gem on their partners: There are other ways of asking for a full-service BJ than lying to your wife … just sayin’.”
But here’s the thing: the actual 2000 clinical study was done by a large team of male and female researchers, and independent follow-up research suggests similar links.
Theories suggest that exposure — vaginally and/or by ingestion — to your semen may be helpful in conception, by reducing her immune response to your man milk.
But it is even more likely, statistically, to reduce her chances of pre-eclampsia, a potentially fatal condition that occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
7. If in doubt, just try to be very fit and super dull: TRUE
There are distressingly few tricks to boosting your chances of dadding — and those that are agreed are usually obvious.
Boozing is a no-no. Smoking as few as five cigs a day reduces your virility, whether you’re male or female. Stay off the pot: THC from marijuana is stored in your fat cells and can cause your sperm to be malformed. Lose weight. If you’re a few kilos over the odds, a BMI of 35 or more will see the quality of your baby gravy fall off a cliff.
And your balls work best when they’re cool — that’s why your nutsack dangles away from and below your body, an evolution that would otherwise be just nuts. (Which is why spas and saunas, why typing with a hot laptop on your thighs is counterproductive, and why tight underpants that hold your lil’ boys against your warm body are bad for your odds. This goes for Lycra, too.)
Oh, and if you are a MAMIL, and struggling to slip a bun into the oven, it more likely because you’re, er, middle-aged. Between 30 and 50, the average chap’s baby batter drops 30 per cent in volume, while his tadpoles are up to 37 per cent slower, and five times more likely to be freakishly misshapen.
But keep riding. Any impact from your bike saddle jousting with your goolies is almost certainly made up for by the fitness benefits of cycling.
READ MORE FROM BEN SMITHURST:
- You’re becoming a dad? 10 unexpected ways you’re about to change
- 15 crappy things you’ll hear as a new dad
- How to actually feel useful when she’s breastfeeding