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June 22, 2005

"Hold the tofu, I'm ovulating!"

I hope that title got your attention.

Via BOTWT, I've come across this priceless article purporting to be science, and if you follow here to the end, you'll see that the Israelis should be effusively thanked.

Here's the headline, and we'll work from there:

Women who eat soya may spoil sperm's chances
Tests indicate such foods may make it harder to get pregnant
The article states:
Women who eat soya-based foods may be damaging their chances of becoming pregnant and should give up eating them during the most fertile part of their monthly cycle, a scientist said yesterday.

Professor Lynn Fraser has found that men's sperm quickly passes its sell-by date if it comes into contact with genistein, a compound found in soya.

Laboratory tests suggest the naturally occurring chemical destroys the mechanism that allows sperm to dock with women's eggs, she said at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Copenhagen.
The lead researcher has a practical suggestion:
"It might be practical, if you are in the habit of eating lots of soya-based products, to restrict your diet for a short time over your window of ovulation," Prof Fraser said.

The researcher, of King's College, London, added that sperm could "hang around" for four days in women's organs.
Sure, stop eating tofu if you want to get pregnant, but look at the other side. You can just imagine the following dialogue:

Alicia: Jeannie, like, how come you're carrying around that box of . . . extra-firm tofu?
Jeannie: Uh, because I have this date tonight, y'know.
Jeannie: Tofu.

James Taranto's angle on it is that it "might explain why the tofu-eating Japanese have a dangerously low fertility rate. And we're not sure, but we'd guess women in blue states eat a lot more tofu than those in red states, so this may be compounding the Roe effect."

But the article reports a skeptic:
Professor Richard Sharpe of the Human Reproductive Science Unit in Edinburgh,was sceptical of the theory: "Oriental societies that traditionally eat a soy-rich diet show no signs of reduced fertility of which I am aware; [and] effects on sperm in the laboratory are not necessarily directly related to what might happen in real life."
He doesn't mention red and blue states, oddly enough; he's a Brit.

And the Israeli angle? You can thank them for putting the kibosh on a rotten idea:
And those who think men should abstain from sex so they can store up more or better sperm to coincide with their partner's ovulation might like to think again.

Dr Elyaho Levitas of the University of the Negev, Israel, analysed sperm samples collected for fertility treatments and found that abstinence in donors for more than three days "is doing some harm to the semen".

"People sometimes abstain from sex for weeks, thinking they are doing good, but I think probably they would be better to have sex every two days, rather than every two weeks," he said.
OK, so the Brits can't spel. It's Dr. Eliahu Levitas. You can contact him at . . .