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Stress may reduce sperm quality

It has long been assumed that stress affects women’s fertility, although the research findings on the relationship between stress and fertility for women have been mixed. The same appears to be true for men. A recent study published in the journal, Fertility and Sterility, suggests that psychological stress is also harmful to sperm quality.

The researchers, led by Dr. Pam Factor-Litvak at the Mailman School of Public Health, and Dr. Teresa Janevic at the Rutgers School of Public Health studied 193 men ages 38 to 49. The men’s stress levels were assessed using subjective and objective measures, and samples of their sperm were analyzed. The sperm were tested for concentration (count), appearance (morphology), and movement (motility). The results indicated that higher life stress reduced sperm quality, even after controlling for the men’s concerns about fertility, their history of reproductive health problems, or other health issues. Men with higher stress had lower concentrations of sperm, and their sperm was more likely to be misshapen or to have impaired motility.

Dr. Factor-Litvak says that it’s not fully understood how stress affects semen quality. One possibility is that stress may trigger the release of steroid hormones called glucocorticoids, which can decrease testosterone levels and sperm production. Dr. Janevic says that their study is the first to link subjective and objective measures of stress to decreased sperm quality. She summarizes their findings:

“Stress has long been identified as having an influence on health. Our research suggests that men’s reproductive health may also be affected by their social environment.”

Read more about stress and fertility here, here, here, and here.

Read the article here.


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