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Stress lowers sperm quality

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Too much stress can cause very uncomfortable feelings and may even lead to high blood pressure. Men who feel stressed also have fewer and slower sperm which may diminish fertility reported Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health on May 29, 2014. According to a study which was led by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Rutgers School of Public Health psychological stress is harmful to sperm and semen quality.

Psychological stress may negatively affect the concentration and appearance of sperm. The ability of sperm to fertilize an egg may also be lowered by too much stress. This is important because according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine infertility affects men and women equally, and semen quality is a primary indicator of male fertility.

Senior study author Pam Factor-Litvak, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health,
says men who are feeling stressed are more likely to have lower concentrations of sperm in their ejaculate. The sperm in these men is also more likely to be misshapen or to have impaired motility. These deficits may be associated with problems with fertility.

This study has been published online in the journal Fertility and Sterility. There were 193 men from the Child Health and Development Studies evaluated between 2005–2008 for the study. To evaluate associations between work-related stress, stressful life events, and perceived stress and semen quality measures of stress were considered including job strain, perceived stress, and stressful life events. Outcomes were measured by sperm concentration, percentage of motile sperm, and the percentage of morphologically normal sperm.

The researchers found men who experienced two or more stressful life events during the past year in comparison with no stressful events had a lower percentage of motile sperm and a lower percentage of morphologically normal sperm. However, they had a similar sperm concentration. Job strain was not observed to be associated with semen parameters. It was concluded that perceived stress and stressful life events but not work-related stress were found to be associated with semen quality.

It therefore appears men who want to enjoy the experience of conceiving healthy babies with their spouse should learn to relax more. Natural methods of relaxation such as meditation and daily exercise are always preferable to drugs. Interestingly, it appears healthy sex may also help men and women lower their feelings of stress.

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