Masculine man with swimming sperm
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Do manly men have weaker sperm?

By Sarah Moses Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - 05:30
Why are women attracted to masculine men? A team of researchers set out to study the sperm of a group of Spanish men for clues.

Think of the most masculine-looking man you know. He probably owes his rugged good looks to widely set cheekbones and other features that make him a magnet for women. But is he just a pretty face or is there a biological reason women are attracted to manly men?

Sperm test

To shed a little light on this question, the international group of researchers investigated one theory: maybe the reason women dig manly men is because masculine looks are a sign of fertility?

So the researchers rounded up 50 Spanish men and had them ejaculate into a tube. The men’s sperm were then tested to see how fast they swam, how concentrated they were, and whether they had normal shapes in order to figure out which men were most fertile.

Masculinity score

The researchers also snapped pics of each participant and recorded things like the width and height of their faces to give each a masculinity score. This way they could have a testable measure for good looks.

But when the researchers analysed the results they were in for a surprise. It turned out that the men with the manliest faces actually had the weakest sperm. Puzzling indeed. The findings showed that greater male fertility might not be the reason women are attracted to more masculine men.

Good news, bad news

There is one theory that could explain the results. The higher the levels of testosterone floating around in a man’s bloodstream, the more masculine he looks, and the greater his chance of wooing the women he wants. There’s a catch though, since other studies have shown that too much testosterone can actually be bad news, and cause fewer sperm to be made.

That’s why researchers reckon it could be a trade-off between pros and cons of pumping out testosterone.

Essentially, guys, the research suggests there are two different strategies for making babies:

1. High testosterone

Good news: Your masculine looks help you get the girls.
Bad news: Your sperm quality is low.
Good news:  Your hunky good looks will maximise your chances to sow that puny seed far and wide!

2. Low testosterone

Good news: Your sperm quality is high.
Bad news: Your wimpy face means you’re not an instant hit with the ladies.
Good news: If you do get lucky, your mighty sperm is more likely to hit the bulls eye!

But ladies, before you think twice about the sperm quality of the ruggedly handsome man you’ve been checking out, the researchers warn against taking the findings too seriously. More studies are needed to confirm whether a masculine appearance is actually a sign of weaker sperm, they say.

Reference: Male facial attractiveness and masculinity may provide sex- and culture-independent cues to semen quality 

Would you dodge a hunky good-looking partner if you thought his sperm might be weaker? Leave a comment below or on Facebook.

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