Can stress affect a man's sperm count?

Men, beware! Stress doesn't cause just tension headaches and fatigue; it could be a reason for infertility too.

In general, stress is a precursor to various illness and ailments. When it comes to male sexual health it has a major role to play. It affects a man s sexuality and functions in a big way. In fact, stress is considered to be a reason for idiopathic infertility in men, which means infertility that has no physiological reason or cause. Here Dr Rohit Joshi, Urologist, Chairman and Director for Aarna Super speciality hospital, Ahmedabad tells us how stress affects a man s sperm count and his fertility:

  1. Stress leads to impairment in the hormonal axis leading to decreased testosterone secretion. It triggers release glucocorticoids, the steroid hormones that decrease the level of testosterone.
  2. Low testosterone leads to decreased spermatogenesis which means lowers the production of sperms. So men who are stressed are supposed to have less sperm concentration per ejaculation.
  3. High levels of stress in the body can also lead to the release of bad chemicals that produce potentially destructive reactive oxygen species (ROS) which results in cell damage. It is this ROS that also disrupts the morphology of sperms, damages their structure, motility and their ability to unite with the egg. If there are more damaged sperms per ejaculation, chances are there is a lesser number of healthy sperms present to infuse with an egg during intercourse. This affects a man s fertility greatly.
  4. Stress also influences bad habits in men which translates into smoking, binge eating, alcohol all of which is known to make it worse. In fact, these habits lead to oxidative stress in the body and release of cortisol that further lowers testosterone production and damages sperm health.

While some amount of stress is actually good that helps one to be motivated and alert, but if stress levels escalate it could lead to infertility and lower sperm count. For couples who are planning to conceive it is necessary to control the stress levels as it affects conception in a big way. Yoga, meditation and mental exercises are suggested to them to help them calm. In men, where sperm quality can be disturbed due to stress it is necessary to tackle the problem with expert help.

Image source: Shutterstock

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