New research has found that men who smoke, drink, take recreational drugs or who are overweight are just as fertile as those who have a far more healthy lifestyle.
This finding flies directly in the face of previous thinking. The official 2004 NHS guidelines state GPs should 'warn men diagnosed with infertility of the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs and being overweight'.
It also arguably flies in the face of common sense.
However the research, which took place in Britain and involved handing out a detailed lifestyle questionnaire to over 2,000 men, is adamant that the long held belief that men with an unhealthy lifestyle are more likely to find it difficult to father a child is wrong and the lifestyle factors which were thought to contribute to sperm problems actually have very little impact.
This could in essence lead to a whole new way of doling out fertility treatment.
At the moment, some couples trying to get IVF on the NHS are forced to delay any treatment until they improve their lifestyles. In some cases, IVF treatment may be withheld.
The new research found that low sperm count is more likely to be found in those who have had testicular surgery (makes sense) those who wear tight underwear (ooh err) and those of black ethnicity (controversial). It was also found to be low in those who had not had a child before.
A researcher behind the study is quoted as saying: “Men should still take care of themselves without feeling the need to become monks”.
So let's have a look at this. I think is it no real revelation that overweight men who drink, smoke, and take recreational drugs are able to father children. You only have to watch an episode of the Jeremy Kyle show to realise this – for those not acquainted with Jeremy Kyle, think Jeremy Springer.
But surely, even if this type of man is physically able to produce a child that is not the end of the story anyway.
What I mean is, these men need to be able to attract a woman who wants to have children with them in the first place. I doubt such a man is really any woman's idea of dream father material. Obviously there are some women who end up having children with these men anyway. Again think Jeremy Kyle.
However, then there is the issue of the man supporting the woman during the pregnancy. Pregnant women may not always act in the most responsible of manners, drinking and smoking regardless and often they are overweight, but it is only going to put further temptation in their way if their partner is drinking, smoking and chowing down on unhealthy food in front of them.
Then how about the father wanting to prolong his life to be there for his children? All these bad lifestyle choices are going to be steadily taking years off their overall life expectancy. And what kind of role model are they going to be to their child if they are perceived by little eyes as always having a drink or a cigarette on the go and being too porky to run around with them at the park?
And finally, here is my ace card. The research includes the fact, in the small print if you like, that whilst an unhealthy lifestyle in men does not decrease their fertility, the researchers cannot be sure that their poor lifestyles won't detrimentally effect such things as the quality of the DNA.
So it is all very well that these men are able to father children but what kind of children are they going to become – certainly not the best children they could be when faulty DNA can lead to all sorts of abnormalities and problems in the child. Surely there could be no more incentive to want to live healthier?