If you use breath fresheners, consume chewing gums, smoke menthol cigarettes, or eat food with mint, there’s a good chance you’ve been warned about the risk mint poses not just to your fertility levels, but also to your sex life. Yes, we men have a strange way of discouraging or warning our friends, and it often boils down to jokes about size and not being able to ‘get it up’. But jokes aside, is there any truth to the stories linking mint consumption with erectile dysfunction?
A study published in Phytotherapy Research, back in 2007, found that the intake of spearmint and peppermint teas can cause suppression of androgen, the male hormone. Researchers did not observe any reduction in overall testosterone levels however, and most experts dismiss the connection as an urban legend that can only be substantiated with more research.
More recently, a study published in Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine tried to establish a connection between mint and suppression of androgen in rats, but the findings were again inconclusive. Evaluation of scientific literature on the subject therefore suggests that mint in itself does not cause erectile dysfunction or impotence. In fact, it doesn’t even affect fertility levels or sperm count and in the rare cases where an effect has been demonstrated, the changes are not significant enough to be cause for concern.
Smokers often chide each other about smoking menthol cigarettes, perpetuating the myth that mint causes erectile dysfunction, but in this case there may be some truth to the allegations. However, this is only true because smoking in itself adversely affects sperm health and fertility levels. To date, no study has conclusively demonstrated a higher association between menthol cigarettes and infertility/sterility as compared to smoking regular cigarettes. Smoking, in general, has been shown to lower sperm count, motility, and mortality, so there’s a small element of truth to the menthol cigarette argument. Moreover, menthol smokers tend to smoke more cigarettes as mint soothes the throat reducing cough reflex and throat irritation. Experts believe that consequentially exposes them to a higher risk, but that risk is clearly linked with smoking, not the mint itself.