Vaping can lower sperm count, sap libido and shrink testicles, scientists warn.
In research on male rats, Turkish experts tested the effect of exposure to smoke from e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes on the sexual health of rodents.
They measured how much sperm the animals could produce, what their testicles looked like under a microscope, and stress markers in their blood and genitals.
The authors wrote: “It should be considered that although the (e-cigarette) liquid has been shown to be harmless in smoking cessation studies, it may increase oxidative stress and cause morphological changes in the testis.”
But regular cigarettes – which have long been linked to male infertility – were even worse in terms of lower sperm count and disrupted sexual function.
Vaping can lower sperm count, sap libido and damage testicles (stock image)
The negative health effects of smoking are well documented, but scientists are beginning to understand the extent of the damage that popular e-cigarettes, once considered a safer smoking choice, have on the whole body.
The graph shows: The sperm concentration rate is decreasing globally from samples collected from 1972 to 2000 (orange) and since 2000 (red).
A major limitation of the study was that it was conducted on rats. The study authors believe that much more research is needed on the effects of vaping on men.
But the negative effects of vaping on fertility are not unfounded. A 2020 study conducted in Denmark over 2,000 men found that daily e-cigarette users had significantly lower total sperm counts than non-users.
Nicotine has long been linked to decreased sperm count and low sperm density, when there are fewer sperm available to fertilize an egg and start a pregnancy.
Heavy smokers have also been shown to have lower sperm motility, another way of describing the ability of sperm to travel through the female reproductive tract in search of an egg to fertilize.
There are also concerns that the toxic chemicals used to give vapes their fruity or minty flavor could damage the body’s sperm production and ability to swim.
In the latest study, researchers from Cumhuriyet University in Sivas, Turkey, looked at three groups of rats.
One group was exposed to traditional cigarette smoke from Winston brand cigarettes, while another was exposed to vapor from a Joyetech eGo Aio 1500 mAh vape. A third group, the control group, was also not exposed.
They placed the rats in each group under a specially designed bell jar where they were exposed to cigarette smoke or e-cigarette vapors twice a day for an hour each time.
The researchers checked the rats’ urine levels for a substance called cotinine, which is a byproduct of nicotine metabolism in the body.
They measured changes in sperm count, as well as the size of their testicles, using a measure known as the gonadosomatic index (GSI).
Rats exposed to e-cigarette vapor had lower sperm counts, measuring 95.1 million sperm per milliliter for the e-cigarette group compared to 98.5 million per milliliter for the control group.
Rats exposed to traditional cigarette smoke had a sperm count of approximately 89 million sperm/ml.
A higher sperm count usually translates to a higher likelihood of causing pregnancy.
Rats exposed to cigarette smoke had smaller and lighter testicles than e-cigarette and unexposed groups, as well as lower numbers of swimming-capable sperm.
In addition to measuring sperm count, testicular weight and height, and sperm motility, the researchers examined the structure of each group’s testicles under a microscope to assess any changes in testicular cell health.
They also looked for changes in sperm production areas, signs of cell death, tissue atrophy and other markers of negative health impacts.
Although no changes were reported in unexposed rats, five of eight rats exposed to e-cigarette smoke showed structural changes in the testicles when examined under a microscope.
The study was published in the Spanish medical journal International Journal of Andrology.
Although not studied in humans, the team’s findings add to an ever-growing pile of evidence pointing to the insidiousness of e-cigarettes, once hailed as a safer alternative to cigarette smoking. early and mid 2010s.
Since then, scientists have uncovered a host of health risks associated with vaping that go beyond nicotine addiction, ranging from high blood pressure, asthma and other respiratory problems to an increased risk heart attack and acute lung injury.
More than 12 million adults use e-cigarettes, and millions more children also use them illicitly.
The devices don’t emit the same tar and other known carcinogens as traditional cigarettes, their vapors are loaded with heavy metals and other dangerous compounds that researchers are still identifying.