Doctor's Note

What does saturated fat have to do with semen quality? Check out my last video The Role of Diet in Declining Sperm Counts.

What about the phytoestrogens in soy? See The Effect of Soy on Precocious Puberty.

More on hormones in dairy in:

Neurotoxic chemicals in the dairy supply have been blamed for neurological conditions as well. See my video Preventing Parkinson’s Disease with Diet.

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  • Merio

    I think this video is really important… could be excessive animal food consumption the culprit of the fertility problems nowadays ? It could be a pivotal factor, but I have to say that women from a pure biologically point of view should have babies between 20 to 30 years… in the past this was pretty normal, but today it seems to me that there is a social push that moved women to have babies later in life (after 30 years) where fertility starts to decline… is my reasoning right ?

    • It’s always best for women to have children in their 20s, but in populations where there is little to no animal consumption (particularly dairy), women don’t experience the sharp drop in their fertility after 35 the way it does for populations that regularly consume animal foods.

    • Yes, it’s true that in first world, western society, the time most women start thinking about having babies is in their late 20s, early 30s. Couple that with the Standard American Diet and, in my opinion, it’s fueling the multi-billion dollar medical fertility industry that we have today. If couples were to go at least 90% plant based and completely give up dairy, then I would expect the rate of infertility to drop significantly. But that’s bad for business, and so we get fertility diet “gurus” extolling the benefits of eating high fat dairy, salmon, grass-fed beef, etc. I should know, until I had my own health problems that were cured with a vegan diet, I was one of those people on the high fat dairy bandwagon.

      • Merio

        I think you have a point, but there are conditions different from diet that could impare fertility (tubal occlusion, endometriosis, early chemo for cancer issue), and i think that in that case the medical fertility industry could be useful. But in fact those type of interventions are expensive (from 10’000 to 15’000 $ per cycle).

        Anyway i rember a quote from Dr Mc Dougall about some of his male “patients” that even in theirs 70’s (!!!) could have children without problems… i find it:


        The most impressive example of the potential for extraordinary health provided by a starch (rice) based diet came from some special Filipinos—specifically, family units consisting of an elderly man, a very young wife, and their children. After saving for years and then retiring, single men traveled to the Philippines in search of a young bride. In my office every day I witnessed what can best be described as “natural Viagra.” Men in their 70s and 80s were starting new families and demonstrating physical functions many American men only fantasize about after their 50s. These Filipino septuagenarians also expected to see their young children grow into adults, and they did. This virility and optimism was from their simple diets.

        So i think that MDs that tried to manage fertility problems should start to look at their patient’s diet first while searching for other factors.

        • Thea

          Merio: Great quote. Thanks for finding and posting that for us.

          • Merio

            You’re welcome. :-)

    • Lark America

      This “really important video” as you called it was about MALE fertility, why do you insist on blaming women for having babies later in life for infertility? Clearly, the poor, low quality of the man’s sperm is also an issue. Furthermore, women delay child bearing for social reasons such as finding a husband so the child can have a father, going to college and getting a good job so the child can be adequately supported, and accruing enough time and experience on her job so she can benefit from the paltry four month maternity leave. If you want women to start having babies in their twenties, encourage politicians to make more family friendly maternity leave laws, encourage young men to think about marriage instead of “hooking up”, encourage corporations to be more flexible in work day scheduling so women and men can properly raise a family, and protest the income inequality that is rampant in America so people can actually afford to raise a family because babies are very very very expensive. Please don’t act like women are so vain and inconsiderate that they want to live a life of leisure to the very end of their biological clock. What have you done to make it easier for women of child bearing age? Do you look at them cockeyed when they need to leave work early to pick up their child from school or daycare because of illness, or do you assist them with a positive attitude?

      • largelytrue

        It seems like you are talking past each other to some extent. Merlo has yet to indicate that he thinks women are to blame for the societal change. Could we try to hear out each other’s position carefully before rushing accuse each other personally?

        • Lark America

          I HEARD out Merio’s position. I was QUESTIONING why he felt the need to mention Women when the video was CLEARLY talking about male fertility.

          • largelytrue

            No, you asked why he “…insists on blaming women…”

            If you want to ask about why someone might want to mention female fertility on a video whose topic is most focally about male fertility, there are obvious answers. If you are interested in male fertility, you are interested in fertility, and you are interested in female fertility as well, as both female and male fertility are generally needed for general fertility. Fertility is the more general topic of the video, or it’s a related topic — whatever you want to call it, female fertility is related to the topic.

          • Lark America

            Yes, I asked HIM not YOU. There are many answers for this, some obvious some not so obvious, which AGAIN is why I asked him. Please stop responding. You are not Merio.

          • largelytrue

            So what if I’m not? You were still being presumptuous, I still saw potential for a nasty argument to unfold, and I didn’t want that to happen. Let’s leave it at that.

          • Lark America


      • Merio

        Well, i do not blame women of course, because everyone should have the choice to decide her/his future; even if the video is related to men, women are the other half of the “problem”. I tend to think at fertility problem as an unique field.

        If a women decide to have a career, it’s really difficult to manage the weight of work and family at the same time, and many stiil have to make a choice between the two.

        In part i blame society, but it’s difficult to find a single culprit, it’s a complex subject.

        Of course men are part of the problem ’cause even men could have fertility problem, or related to the reproductive system:

        Our reproductive system is “sufficient” (from 25 to 30% ) in respect to other species (eg in rabbit we have 90 %), an healthy man has a constant sperm production even if really fluctuating in quality and numbers, while women mature an ovum per month from puberty till menopause (that starts from 40 to 50 years old).

        A women starts at birth with like 6 millions of primary follicles… at puberty we have different situations from 1,5 millions to 25’000 follicles… but in the end only 400 follicles would be recruited and final became provulatory follicles.

        Then there are many other part of the story, but at the end what one could understand it’s the fact that the birth of a healthy child is a sort of MIRACLE, and i do not think to exaggerate to say that women are a sort of “God” in this scenario.

        Anyway talking about possible solutions, i read long ago a trilogy called “Conversation with God” by Neal Donald Walsch and there was a part where “God” suggest to let the youngs enjoy they’re lifes while children would be taken care of by grandmas and granpas. Children would not be seen as a property of parents (od course they will be stil important) but as a gift for the entire society, as the sons of everyone.

        From a more technical point of view, women could now decide to donate they’re ovocite to… themselves (or others) !

        • Lark America

          You are right. Fertility is a complex problem.Whenever you talk about fertility you need to talk about both genders since it takes two. It would be nice if we as a society could come up with some viable medical and social solutions so everyone who wanted kids could have them. I am so sorry if I was offensive earlier accusing you of blaming women. Again you are right, it is very important to look at the whole story when trying to understand an intricate issue. Saving or donating eggs are great solutions, however, they come with a price tag.

          • Merio

            It’s not a problem, we are talking of really important topics so it’s good to have even strong arguments.

            Indeed you’re are right about the price tag ‘since every solution could have pros and cons and everyone should decide freely about the subject.

            Best regards

    • Susan

      I had a baby daughter when I was 31 in 1974, my daughter had a baby when she was 37. Although, I fed my family organic food and we started drinking and eating organically grown meat and dairy in 1986, for most of their lives and mine, we ate conventional dairy and meat (when organic was not available).
      Livestock are unable to reproduce when they are forced to eat genetically engineered corn this came after the times when I conceived. My daughter grew up on organic from 1986 though most of 2004. Then has eaten grass fed livestock and dairy after that time. Her baby son is age 3 and although he prefers vegetables to meat, he consumes a great deal of organic milk yogurt.

      Perhaps it matters more where the meat and dairy animals were fed and what the waters or feed contained. There are other chemicals in our environment known to reduce the sperm count, including dioxins that are widespread in the air, soils, waters and fish, as well as GMO corn and both glyphosate (Roundup) and 2,4-D (dioxin contaminated herbicide), which have also been found to reduce the sperm count and contribute to spontaneous abortion of fetuses in both livestock, pets, and people.

      • Merio

        From what i know now i think that animal food could lower the chance to have a baby for a couple, but not to completely abolished they’re reproductive ability.

        There are a lot of factor into play, and it’s difficult to blame only one, or two.

        Anyway i need references for your sentences about GMOs since i searching the subject, and the more information i find, the better is.

        • John

          Physically it’s better for young people to bear children, but have you been around many 21 year olds? They’re not mostly good candidates for the patience, dedication and self-sacrifice necessary to be a good parent. They also rarely have good jobs. Many of them have very little knowledge about nutrition, cooking, history, child-raising practices, or the interest in finding out. Most people don’t attain this until they’ve had some life experience, or ages say 30-35, so it’s really a balance.
          John S
          PDX OR

          • Merio

            Yes, that it’s a problem indeed.

            I think that the role of grandpas and grandmas are really pivotal in this case, so we need to really avoid to forget them since their help could be a major factor.

          • Jerry Howe

            I agree. Have you known many adults of older onset parents ?

            They all have a better sense of themselves. They were raised by parents who as well had a better grip of themselves and could allow their offspring to develop and learn more in their own terms.

            I do agree that grandparents are important and can help where younger parents fall short.

      • Gary

        One of the studies in the video showed a detrimental effect on sperm in meat without added hormones. None of the studies say 100% of people eating meat can’t have babies, but that the probability of a decrease in sperm function is higher. One of the proposed culprits is animal fat, in which environmental toxins may also acumulate.

  • Richard

    So, it seems that it’s not the high cholesterol count that causes the sperm problems, it’s really the root cause of the high cholesterol (animal fat) that’s the guilty party.

    • cameron

      Richard, thats completely right, although we do know from many well known scientific journals that cholesterol in all animal forms (eggs, meat, liver) continues to promote an increase in blood cholesterol levels, increasing risk for cardiovascular disease (stroke, high blood pressure, heart attack etc). Therefore by avoiding animal products which are highest in dietary cholesterol we immediately cut our risk of an early death. Our body can actually produce cholesterol on its own, without the need for animal foods. A plant based diet is best not only for sperm count (making babies), but for longevity in life.

      Cameron Segura

  • Really

    Sounds like the solution is to consume organic and grass fed cow’s milk and less about avoiding milk entirely.

    • largelytrue

      What in any of that suggested that not grass-feeding has anything to do with the issue?

      • Really

        If cows are not being grass fed, then what do you think they are eating?

        • Ray Lapan-Love

          Using “grass fed” as a standard is not reliable. Here in Texas for example, Coastal grass is used to bale and for use as grazing feed. That grass though is usually fertilized with non-organic compounds, and sometimes it is fertilized organically.

          Then too, cattle can eat a wide variety of plants, and each of these can be grown organically or otherwise. Some large scale farms, for example, will include a feed lot to make use of by-products. I’ve seen cattle fattened on carrots, and on beet tops, and it isn’t uncommon for candy by-products to be mixed into grain so as to drive up the calories. Turns out, cattle enjoy chocolate candy bars just as much as we do.

          However, I doubt any of this has anything to do with the topic of this video though.

          • Really

            It does relate to the topic in terms of pollutants in our milk.

          • Ray Lapan-Love

            Yes, or at least the title suggests that we are talking about pollutants, but the video shifts the focus to animal fat. I was a little lazy and vague too, but I meant that I had probably said enough about cattle eating candy and the like.

          • Really

            As I said, the message seems to be to avoid pollutants and added hormones in milk but not the milk itself. Would we stop eating kale because some farmers are using pollutants like pesticides on it? Or should we just eat organic kale?

          • Ray Lapan-Love

            I take to the video to say that cholesterol is problematic and that suggests to me that all dairy is bad for fertility in males.

          • Really

            We at least agree the title is misleading. And the video covers both your points and mine.

          • Susan

            If any of those grasses, grains, or vegetables, including sugar has either been heavily sprayed with Roundup or 2,4-D, the livestock are taking in massive amounts of weed killers that kill life (weeds plus animal life). Sugar beets alike alfalfa (part of grasses and hay) may be genetically modified with a bacterium, virus, to cause the seed to accumulate the herbicide and the GM plant will not die. That is not the case for the sperm or the unborn animal. They like the humans that eat the GM corn, sugar beets (read sugar on the label) as well as other crops including alfalfa may contribute to the demise of the fetus.

            Monsanto, the world’s largest biotech and pesticide company has basically two types of widespread GM crops. Soy which is “resistant” to Roundup, 2,4-D, dicamba, and now glufosinate, and corn or cotton which contains the soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis in every cell of the new dna.


            Compositional differences in soybeans on the market: Glyphosate accumulates in Roundup Ready GM soybeans, which was published in Food Chemistry, June 15, 2014. The soy used in the study came from Iowa, USA.

          • Susan

            To date, Monsanto has genetically modified soy, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets (labeled sugar), alfalfa, and possibly some vegetables. They all resist massive amounts of herbicides and the plants don’t die. But both human fetuses have died in Argentina, where also GM soy is grown using the same technology as in the USA, and farm families who neighbored the fields in Canada and were pregnant prior to the spraying, lost their fetuses which were spontaneously aborted (miscarriages occurred). This was at a time when only one herbicide, Glyphosate or Roundup was used to kill weeds. Now, Monsanto and the other biotech-pesticide companies have amassed 3 or even 4 herbicides together by modifying the seeds further to handle more and more concentrated amounts and high quantities of herbicides. All this is not based on peer reviewed science, and NO health studies are allowed to be published in the USA.

            This is because Michael Taylor while a top lobbyist for Monsanto during the Bush Quayle Administration made a deal with President Bush to regulate the new GM crop until they were ready to be put into the market place and then de-regulate them. Taylor and the Bush-Quayle Administration wrote the FDA policy on biotechnology which still stands today and is without any controls, or peer reviewed studies supporting the technology. There are lots of studies published around the world which oppose the technology. Go to for more.

            In 2006 or 2007, W, George Bush and Dick Cheney offered any corporation that did not like any study at the U.S. EPA to remove the study from the EPA chemical library (these included biotechnology pesticides used with GM crops), for $1 million per corporation. All studies disappeared from the EPA Library,

            the Library of Congress, the National Library of Medicine, even the World Health Organization.


            And when Obama came into office and Dow wanted to have 2,4-D re-registered there were no studies. They were given what they wanted. When 2,4-D (dioxin contaminated) was used on corn and soy as livestock feed, they only listened to the industries and ignored the public, when 2,4-D was expanded to be used on other crops as well, it was rubber stamped even though more than 30 members of Congress and 500,000 scientists and members of the public protested.

            Now a coalition of environmental organizations and farmers are challenging EPA over its decision to permit use of 2,4-D.

    • Julie

      No, that is not the solution. Remember from the video that modern cows are milked throughout pregnancy. During the last 2 trimesters cows produce increasingly larger amounts of estrogen, which comes out in their milk. So the solution is to either avoid dairy or try to locate milk from a non-pregnant cow (but then you still have the environmental pollutants to worry about–even in organic grass fed milk).

      • unf13

        As studies show the bulk of the estrogen is found in the dairy fat. So to make dairy consumption as safe as we can first, we should opt for low fat dairy (also reduces cholesterol and saturated fat intake). Second, we should prefer fermented dairy products which have some health benefits (for example, kefir was found to suppress estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells proliferation )

  • Ray Lapan-Love

    I am a dedicated follower of this site but… on this one, I disagree.

    I’m nearly 59 and my sperm count and my sex drive are exceptionally high. I also consume nearly 1 gram of protein per each pound of my body weight, per day, and most of this protein comes from non-organic sources of dairy.

    I also lift weights for about 2 hours per day with one day off per week, typically. I also lift intensely, with the intent of activating growth hormone. This requires a level of intensity that can only occur when muscles are stressed to an extreme degree. And, during the hours after these types of workouts, and on the following day of an especially hard session, there is a very noticeable surge in sex drive.

    It is also rather obvious that older men who learn to workout with a certain level of intensity, tend to look young for their respective ages, and we tend to be much more sexually active than men who are in poor physical condition. I don’t know of any studies to support this, but it seems one can find studies to support just about anything. So, with that in mind, I simply submit the anecdotal fact that I have met scores of middle-aged men who have had the same experience that I have had.

    • largelytrue

      If I recall, the metabolic syndrome has been linked with some ‘feminizing’ shifts in the male physiology. I could probably dig up a few sources on this as it’s a subject best studied with careful scrutiny and epistemic caution, but don’t have the time to do this right now.

      • Ray Lapan-Love

        I’ve heard of a recent study too that revealed some evidence that testosterone levels and estrogen levels must rise in tandem. This being of course in conflict with the practice of blocking estrogen as a way of suppressing those “‘feminizing’ shifts”, or at least conflicting as to how testosterone levels can rise independently.

        This is however another issue that I have some first-hand knowledge on. Maybe I should say too that my son is an Exercise Science major and so we do some in-house experimentation with lots of supplements and etc. And, as the primary lab rat, I have used soy protein extensively and never have I noticed any feminizing effects. Naturally though, phyto-estrogen is different than what is being discussed on the video, but… as stated in my comment earlier, I am now using unusually large amounts of dairy-based proteins and my sperm count and my sex drive remain exceptionally high.

    • Han

      Consider the positive effects if you’d drop your intake of dairy.

  • Susan

    My husband and I had no problem producing a child in 1974 (in fact, she came on her due date. Then, in 2011 with her husband, she produced a son. All ingested meat and dairy in large amounts.
    Additionally, my brother’s sperm count and mobility was very high, but his wife was unable to get pregnant, although she was older than any of us when we decided to have a family. But interestingly enough, she was a twin, and her twin sister had no problem getting pregnant or carrying a fetus to term.
    Could something else be involved here? No one in our family on either side has had problems with fertility, other than my brother’s wife.

    • Han

      one word: anecdotal

  • Charzie

    Since I don’t consume animal products and am well past the age of reproduction, it doesn’t directly affect me, but it still begs the question of what role all these hormones play in female fertility, specifically? Elimination is of course the simple cure to any of the issues, but just curious.

  • NormanAllen

    Plant based diet has changed the course of my life from continuous pain/aches to manageable aches/pains and losing about 20 lbs. in about one year (from 190 lbs. to about 165-170 lbs). I expect to be around 150-160 lbs within a year. I have avoided red meat/chicken, dairy products, eggs. Occasionally eat fish and Chinese/Vietnamese food. I wish there was diet for inducing sleep for insomniacs… May the FORCE continue to be with Dr. Greger…

    • Thea

      NormanAllen: That’s great news! Contralutations on fixing yourself. :-)

      re: insomnia
      You may want to check out some of the following videos. Dr. Greger has some ideas for you to try.

      Hope that helps!

  • Charzie

    I guess this is a bit off topic and I know I’ll get slack for this remark, though it surely isn’t new, but even as a kid I wondered why on earth people would feel inclined to drink a fluid that is excreted to nourish the babies of another species! Even so young, there was a serious disconnect in the concept and it seemed alien, and well, just wrong to me! This stuff is not only from a different species entirely, but it is designed to make large newborns grow dramatically into huge vegetarians, in less than a year! LOL! How much irony is in that simple concept? Add to that gob of reality, all the negative practices and effects we now know about, and it just boggles me that people still try to advocate in favor of it, splitting imaginary hairs like “raw”, “not pasteurized”, “grass fed”, etc.! It is quite obvious that *we want to believe what allows us to maintain what we desire*, so perhaps my ongoing distaste for “cow mucus” gives me a different perspective, but why would anyone opt in favor of this ludicrous practice? Even if you can somehow disregard the above, it is so detestable in regards to the unthinkable numbers of sentient, feeling creatures victimized! Especially in the deplorable factory farming scenario, but even in the most positive and “natural” dairy farm setting, a newborn baby is separated and isolated from it’s mother and fed manually with “pooled resources” so humans can have “their” milk! I guess being a mom makes me relate a little too much here, but it strikes me as evil and heartless on so many levels! Just so unnecessary! I can understand in our distant past that food equated to survival and we figured out ways to survive at all costs, but that same intelligence should also acknowledge those things no longer apply!

    In talking to people about veganism, one of the commonest obstacles that arises, besides the obvious lack of “meat”, is giving up cheese! Even I can vouch for it’s addictive qualities, sadly, before becoming entirely vegan. The imitation non-dairy products you can buy mostly don’t cut it, and are just too pricey anyway, for me. There are a variety of plant based recipes on the internet and Youtube that can be better, but finding Miyoko Schinner’s recipes led to finding her book, “Artisan Vegan Cheese”, which is a game changer! She has recipes you can make yourself with plant ingredients and no special tools, and includes plant versions of most common cheeses, even yogurt! (No affiliation here, just a happy vegan!) They are amazing! There is a bit of a learning curve for some, and a few unusual ingredients, but many couldn’t be easier and are just wonderful! (Though most ARE concentrated calories and should be regarded similar to their dairy counterparts.) Highly recommended! And I’ll shut up now! LOL!

  • AA

    Is Soy estrogenic or feminizing? Many claim it is. Why shouldn’t high amounts of Soy be avoided along with the foods mentioned in this video?
    Charzie, thank you for the plant based cheese making book reference. Do you have any favorite recipes in the book?

    • Thea

      AA: Unless you consume ridiculous amounts of soy, it is not “feminizing”. Consuming 2-3 servings of traditional soy products a day is actually a very healthy thing to do, including helping to reduce risk of cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. If this topic interests you, you can learn a lot more on this site by watching other videos and blog articles on the topic of soy.

  • Levon

    When will people start to understand that their anecdotal experiences do not negate what is being said in Dr. Greger’s videos. I know heavy smokers who lived well in to their late 80s. But I also saw my dad, a heavy smoker, die when he was 54. We know that smoking is bad for us.
    Now studies show that dairy products and the pollutants accumulated in them may be the reason for the declining fertility in men and people keep saying “well I didn’t have that problem and i always drink milk”. So what! You will always find people who will not have certain problems the majority of people have. But that doesn’t make the facts less true. We are all different individuals. Every body reacts different. But in this case there is still strong evidence that for most people dairy products are detrimental to their health and fertility.

  • SeedyCharacter

    I just read this article on dairy consumption in relation to various cancers . . . relevant to the topic here:

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    I love this (research) video! It clearly strikes a chord with many as the comments below attest.

  • Regarding the comments that are anecdotal, that a great deal of meat and dairy has been consumed and still sperm counts are high and no problem with fertility, it’s just anecdotal. Fertility problems are estimated to be ~15% of the overall population, so of course that means 85% will be fine. I work with the 15% who have tried “everything” – timed intercourse, IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination), and IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) – and in the two years since I’ve asked these patients to switch to plant based eating, it is clearly helping many more to achieve a successful pregnancy. (I define successful as resulting in a healthy, live baby.)
    Not only are the sperm counts, sperm motility, and sperm morphology parameters showing much improvement, there are other benefits being reported. GERD is gone. Sleep is better. Increased sense of energy and overall well being are common.
    I would also like to mention that men with high cholesterol who are being treated with statin drugs often have corresponding drops with their sperm motility and morphology. I ask them to switch to plant based to see about reducing and eventually going off the statin med that is hurting their fertility. For the gentleman who go plant based 100%, in most cases their fertility improves, and either they have success with the next round of IUI or IVF, or for some they are able to impregnate their female partners the old fashioned way, without any medical intervention.
    Additionally, it is estimated that in couples dealing with fertility issues, nearly 50% are due to male factor. In the incidences of low sperm count, couples are often made to go straight to IVF.

  • HereHere

    These results are completely opposite of the recent Loma Linda (Harvard) study, and I wonder why.

    I’m 100% for a vegan diet, but we must be truthful in our use of research and ensure the discussion is balanced.

  • Goory Kaur

    It is so common to see infertility especially in women. Many women being diagnosed with PCOS in our clinic. I see PCOS in women who are at least over weight if not obese. These women do tend to eat a diet consisting of many processed foods and is low in vegetables and fruits.

  • David Noble

    What’s interesting is that I see the justification made for eating eggs and animal products (for men) being that you need to eat enough cholesterol to produce testosterone – of course this video would suggest the benefits on one’s ‘manliness’ are not as clear cut as even that.

    Is there any evidence or studies that disprove the idea that you need to eat cholesterol for optimum testosterone?

  • Is this saying that I can drink more milk as a male to increase feminization? I am vegetarian and will not consume meat, but would consider drinking more milk fat to achieve this result based on this information.