Billed as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, the popularity of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, has increased in recent years. While e-cigarettes do contain fewer chemicals and may be beneficial in adults as a substitute for smoked tobacco products, they are far from safe.  E-cigarettes contain nicotine, heavy metals, and other volatile organic compounds, all of which can have negative effects on respiratory function and potentially cause cancer.

These harmful effects are not limited to the lungs. In fact, a recent study suggests that e-cigarettes could have deleterious effects on fertility as well. In this report, sperm counts were approximately 50 million lower among regular e-cigarette users when compared to non-smokers.  This is the first study published on humans suggesting e-cigarettes lower sperm counts.

Interestingly, another unpublished small study found that the flavor used, particularly bubble gum, might also affect the degree of sperm production impairment, but this has not been confirmed in more well designed studies.

“I tell all my patients: in general, anything you can do to make your body healthy can make your sperm healthier, and tobacco products, regardless of the method of delivery, are a big one,” said Dr. Luke Machen.