For Men Only: The Link Between Your Cologne and Your Low Sperm Count

I’ve been helping men with their health issues for many years now.  This not only includes their general health but also their reproductive/sexual health.  Over the years, I’ve seen quite a few men – of all ages – with fertility and low-T issues. These problems can have a number of aggravating factors, but there’s one particular source I’ll bet you never considered.  Let me tell you about it.

Personal Products, Your Health and Your Fertility

In your effort to be a well-groomed man, you likely invest in personal cosmetics including shaving gels/cream, deodorant, shampoo, cologne, antibacterial soaps, etc.  But did you know that just a single use of these common products could up your intake of dangerous chemicals that may significantly decrease your sperm count? They may also put you at higher risk for developing cancer.

Surprised? So are most of my male patients who come to me complaining that they and their spouse are having a tough time conceiving. These are often men over 40 who may be in second marriages, or even men marrying for the first time who wish to start a family. As infertility in couples is due, 40% of the time, to low sperm counts in men, I always ask men about their personal cosmetics use.  I ask what type, how much they use, how often, and how long they have used those products? Most of them can’t believe that a product that has been second nature to them for years could actually be undermining both their reproductive, and general, health.  Before I tell you what these chemicals are, first let me give you a little background.

If you’re like the average guy, you use about 6 personal care products a day.  These products can contain upward of 80 different chemicals.  Many of these chemicals are taken into your body through rubbing them on your skin, or inhaling their spray.  But did you know that the majority of these chemicals have not been tested for human safety in prolonged use? It’s true.  Some of the chemicals your personal products contain are linked to cancer, infertility, and several chronic conditions in the man who uses them as well as birth defects and learning disabilities in any children you may father.

The Chemicals in Your Personal Products

The following chemicals in men’s personal care products are the worst offenders:

1.  DEP.  Short for diethyl phthalate, it’s found in cologne, aftershave, shaving cream, shampoos and deodorants.  Research on humans has revealed that DEP levels are linked to decreased sperm count, as well as sperm damage. In addition, abnormal reproductive development has been noted in infants, as well as Attention Deficit Disorders, and children of fathers who’ve used these products.  Studies out of Harvard University revealed that even a single spray of phthalate- containing cologne can significantly raise DEP levels. Some common, popular products found to contain DEP are Calvin Klein’s Eternity For Men and Old Spice After Hours Body Spray.

2.  Lead acetate.  This one’s found primarily in progressive hair and beard dye products sold over the counter, e.g. Grecian Formula.   These products use lead that interacts with the sulfur content in your hair. The chemical reaction is one of oxidation, which causes your hair to become darker each time you use it. If you have an abrasion on your scalp, from simple brushing or scratching, the lead from this product can be absorbed into your blood stream. Lead in any product has been deemed toxic to human health in general, but lead acetate has been found in research to be toxic specifically to human sperm.  The European Union has banned these products for sale. Be sure to read the labels.

3.  Coal tar.  Many popular dandruff shampoos, like Neutrogena T-Gel, MediDan, PC Tar, Denorex, PsoriaTrax, all contain some percentage of coal tar.  Coal tar has been deemed a carcinogen, and environmental toxin, and has been banned from Canada and the European Union for many years. It has the highest 10 hazard rating on the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics database because it is also a “bioaccumulative” – meaning it collects and stays in the soft tissues of humans and other living organisms.  A safer dandruff shampoo is ReviTeaLize that is made from natural green tea.

4.  Triclosan.  This is a hormone disruptor found in many antibacterial soaps/body washes, deodorants, shaving creams.  It has also been deemed to cause antibiotic resistant bacteria with constant use.  Save yourself some money and your health and just use regular soap.

5.  Formaldehyde, 1-4 dioxane.  This chemical is also a known carcinogen found in many common shampoos and body washes.  It has also been found to not only immobilize, but kill, sperm.

Are There Any Safer Products?

I’m happy to tell you that, yes, there are many “green” companies out there who make nontoxic-to-humans-cosmetics.  One very popular brand is Tom’s who makes a variety of personal products that both men and women can use interchangeably. Other companies include Botanical Works, Just The Goods, Olives Organic Botanicals LLC, and Weleda, to name a few.  You can buy these companies products in a natural health food/vitamin store or online.

What Else Can You Do?

You can improve your sperm count by doing the following:

  • Stop using sperm damaging, dangerous chemical-containing products immediately.
  • Get optimal levels of zinc.  Take 60 mg a day with 1-2 mg of copper.
  • Limit alcohol.  Too much decreases sperm count.
  • L-Carnitine.  3 grams (3,000 mg) L-carnitine a day can help sperm motility.

You may never thought that all the cosmetics you use to make yourself look and smell attractive may be what dampens your sex drive and your sperm count, health and motility.  Check your medicine cabinet or shaving bag.  Read the labels of the personal products you use.  If you find any of the above listed problem chemicals in them, ditch them and get to a store that carries natural products.  Take control of your reproductive, as well as your general health today to ensure a happier, healthier tomorrow.

Stay Well,
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
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Mark Rosenberg, M.D.

Dr. Mark Rosenberg, MD is a Phlebologist in Boca Raton, FL. He is affiliated with Boca Raton Regional Hospital.

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