Stress tied to male infertility

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Men with higher levels of stress may be less fertile than those with lower levels, according to a new study.

Scientists at Columbia University and Rutgers School of Public Health assessed 193 ages 38 to 49 between the years of 2005 and 2008. Through a series of tests, the researchers assessed the participants’ stress levels in the workplace, stressful life events and overall stress. The men then provided semen samples, which the researchers analyzed for semen concentration, sperm shape and sperm movement—factors that are assessed in standard fertility testing methods.

The results of the study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, showed that the men who experienced two or more stressful events within the past year demonstrated less sperm movement and had a lower percentage of normal sperm shape, when compared with the men who experienced no stressful events. The findings also showed that men with higher levels of stress in the workplace had decreased levels of testosterone, which researchers said could affect fertility.

The researchers concluded that men’s social environment may affect their reproductive health, but acknowledged that it remains unclear how exactly stress may affect the quality of semen.