We'll try to put this delicately. Men who eat a lot of bacon might have, well, it could … it could affect their ability to become daddies, as well as their overall manliness.

In more scientific terms: Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have found that men who eat lots of processed meat such as bacon and sausage have lower sperm quality than men who don't. On the other hand, men who have a diet heavy in fish have better sperm and more of it, thus making them fertility powerhouses — if that's what you're after.

The findings, “Meat intake and semen parameters among men attending a fertility clinic,” were presented Monday in Boston at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's annual meeting. They were published in the journal Fertility and Sterility (which we like to thumb through while eating our morning Cheerios).

“What brought up our concern is how meat is produced in the United States,” Dr. Jorge Chavarro, one of the researchers, told the New York Daily News. “Many beef producers give cattle natural or synthetic hormones to stimulate growth, a few days or weeks before the animals are killed. We wanted to examine how these hormones might affect people who consume them.”

The scientists analyzed more than 350 semen samples from 156 men in “subfertile couples” who visited a local fertility center and answered questions about their diet. They found that eating processed red meat has a negative effect on “sperm morphology” — the size and shape of sperm's cell structures. Having abnormal sperm can contribute to infertility.

The study accounted for other factors such as age, body mass index, abstinence interval, prior fertility evaluation, smoking status, race and caloric intake.

Eating just one slice of bacon or one sausage link a day can deform the little swimmers. The study found that men who consume that amount have 30% fewer normal sperm than men who don't.

Eating white fish had a positive effect on sperm shape, while eating dark-meat fish like salmon and tuna increased sperm count. Men who ate the highest amount of fish had 34% more sperm.

That's right: The manliest men eat tunafish sandwiches.

It's long been known that healthy diets contribute to healthy sperm, the researchers say. Prior studies have linked dairy products and carbohydrate-heavy diets with sperm issues.

Guys, lest you get any funny ideas, let us stress: Bacon is not considered a reliable form of contraception.

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