The negative effects of stress on one’s health are already well-documented- but could stress be especially harmful for male reproduction?
According to a small new study, the answer is yes, as it found that stress could damage men’s sperm.
Research published in the journal Fertility and Sterility shows a link between having two or more stressful life events within the last year and sperm motility, shape, and even concentration.
“Men who feel stressed are more likely to have lower concentrations of sperm in their ejaculate, and the sperm they have are more likely to be misshapen or have impaired motility,” admitted study researcher Pam Factor-Litvak, Ph.D., an associate professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. “These deficits could be associated with fertility problems.”
The research involved 193 men between the ages of 38 to 49 who provided researchers with semen samples. They also offered information regarding their recent stressors in two ways: objective stress reports including life events that are understood to cause stress, and subjective stress reports including how they felt. Stress related to work and overall life was then analyzed.
Following consideration of reproductive health history and fertility worries, researchers witnessed a connection between life stress and quality of semen. Although work stress didn’t appear to be associated with semen, researchers did notice that job stress is associated with lower testosterone levels (which could worsen reproductive health).
The study failed to convey a causal relationship (only an associative one), though; researchers did see oxidative stress and hormones called glucocorticoids which are potentially triggered by stress and impact sperm and testosterone production to be possible reasons for this association.
What’s more, other things could affect men’s semen which aren’t stress-related. A Harvard study conducted last year showed that processed meat is connected with lower semen quality. Furthermore, separate research has found associations with lower sperm and watching TV for more than 20 hours each week, as well as being overweight. A study from 2010 even found an association between a lower sperm count and a chemical found in plastic called BPA.
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