Stress ‘deteriorates quality of sperm’

30 May 2014

Psychological stress is harmful to sperm and can degrade the quality of semen, affecting its concentration, appearance and its ability to fertilise an egg, suggests new research published in the online journal Fertility and Sterility.

Pam Factor-Litvak, senior author of the study, commented: "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.

"These deficits could be associated with fertility problems."

The research involved studying 193 men, aged between 38 and 49, between 2005 and 2008. The participants completed to tests designed to measure work and life stress on subjective and objective scales. They also provided samples of their semen.

According to the results, whether evaluated subjectively or objectively, life stress degraded the quality of semen. Conversely, workplace stress was not a factor, although scientists warned it could affect reproductive health as job strain could decrease testosterone levels.

In addition, researchers found that the sperm of unemployed men was a lower quality compared to that of their employed counterparts, irrespective of how stressed they felt.

The mechanisms behind this association is not fully understood, but scientist believe life stress could release hormones that blunt levels of testosterone and sperm production. 

Posted by Philip Briggs

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