The data was presented at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine's 2013 Annual Meeting in Boston where researchers advised men to stay away from bacon and other forms of red meat if they are trying to conceive.
“We found the effect of processed meat intake lowered quality and fish raised quality,” explained Dr. Myriam Afeiche from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).
For testing, Afeiche and colleagues recruited 156 men with infertility concerns who were enrolled in in vitro fertilization. Each participant and their partners were asked about their diet and how often they consumed processed meat, red meat, white meat, poultry and fish.
The research team found that men who ate less than half a portion of processed meat a day had 7.2 percent “normal” sperm, while men who ate half portion or more a day had just 5.5 percent.
But not everyone was convinced about the small survey's findings.
“The relationship between diet and men’s fertility is an interesting one and there is certainly now convincing evidence that men who eat more fresh fruit and vegetables have better sperm than men who don’t,” said Doctor Allan Pacey, chairman of the British Fertility Society. “However, less is known about the fertility of men with poor diets and whether specific foods can be linked to poor sperm quality.”
Pacey, however, admitted that there is sufficient evidence to support the theory that processed meat can have a damaging effect on men's health.