The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

I got a message stating that "Eating mint can destroy 10,000 sperms." So please tell me whether it is true or rubbish.

Ramesh


Answer

There is a game that is sometimes played to demonstrate what happens with rumors. One person is told a simple statement. He then whisper it to the next person, who then passes it on. The last person then announces what he was told, and amazingly it bears little resemblance to the original statement.

The Internet just magnifies this same game. I tried to trace back where this idea could have come from and it appears that for many years there has been a rumor that menthol cigarettes are more harmful than non-menthol brands. I suspect that this had its roots in brand loyalty because, other than taste, both types are equally bad for a person's health. But truth rarely stops rumors. For years there has been a persistent rumor in Thailand (where 90% of the men smoke) that menthol cigarettes makes a man impotent (have difficulties having sex or conceiving a child). The actual truth is that research shows 2.2% of non-smokers are impotent, but 3.7% of smokers are impotent. There is also research showing that smoking lowers a man's sperm count.

Hence, starting with a grain of truth -- smoking lowers your sperm count -- and adding a falsehood -- it is the menthol (not the tobacco) that does it -- results in a misconception that will not die.

Somewhere along the line this myth became altered from menthol cigarettes to mint flavored gums as it was passed from person to person. The alteration makes the statement even more false. There is not a shred of evidence that mint impacts a man's sperm count. The addition of "10,000" is an attempt to make the false statement look more credible by adding a precise value, but it doesn't change the fact that it is false.

However, just for laughs, let us suppose that the statement was true. A healthy adult male produces about 100,000,000 sperm cells per day. In an average ejaculation is 500,000,000 sperm cells. So let assume for the moment that mint lowers the number of sperm from 500,000,000 to 499,990,000; it is not much of an impact. Add to this that a man is only considered to have fertility problems if his sperm count is below 60,000,000 and you realize that this myth is ridiculous even if it was true.