A significant amount of research has been conducted on how stress negatively impacts health and leads to heart conditions, asthma, depression and obesity. But now studies are also linking stress to reduced sperm-count and sperm quality, which impacts male fertility.
In almost 40% of all infertile couples in India, the male partner contributes to infertility. Sperm abnormalities are the primary reason for male infertility and includes immobile/misshapen sperm or low sperm production.
Focus Awhile on Your Lifestyle
When infertile couples come to our clinic , I try to ascertain the kind of lifestyle my patients lead. Modern-day life can be very stressful, jobs are demanding, and people face personal and career stresses as well as financial ones. What makes things worse is the kind of lifestyle that people lead- they work late hours, don’t eat right, and don’t sleep long enough . All these factors tend to weigh down on the person and create stresses that result in a range of medical afflictions including infertility.
Researchers from The Mailman School of Public Health from NY’s Columbia University and Rutgers School of Public Health in Piscataway (NJ) published a study in the Fertility and Sterility journal. The topic of investigation was about how stress might affect sperm quality.
The study spanned 4 years, and 193 men in the age range of 38-49 years were assessed. Tests were conducted and stress levels were measured- this included workplace stresses, life events as well as overall perceived-stress. The researchers analyzed aspects such as sperm concentration, sperm shape and motility.
It was found that men who had experienced 2 or more stressful life events over the course of a year had lower sperm quality compared to men who hadn’t experienced any kind of stressful life events.
The men who experienced job-related strains had low levels of testosterone (sex hormone) and this could have a negative impact on reproductive health. Interestingly, men who were unemployed also had lower semen quality compared to men who were employed.
So What Exactly Goes Wrong?
Researchers are not able to pinpoint how stress impacts the quality of semen, but there are some strong theories:
· Release of Glucocorticoids- Stresses may activate glucocorticoids (steroid hormones). These affect metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates which may in turn reduce sperm production and testosterone levels
· Oxidative Stress- Stress can act as a trigger for physiological (oxidative) stress, which is caused by the damage from un-neutralized free radicals- this has been linked with semen quality.
The Stress Mess
Stress and infertility are a chicken and egg problem. While stress can cause infertility, infertility causes stress as well !
The problem is that we tend to blame everything on "stress". Real life is much more complex than this ; and sometimes just telling the poor man that his low sperm count is because he is too stressed out just adds to his stress levels and makes a bad situation even worse .
Hacking that Stress
We need to focus on constructive solutions. One way to hack stress is to mindfully attempt to rid your body of all mental & muscular tension. Redirect your energies, work efficiently, improve mental clarity and freeze long hours at work, eliminate back pain and improve posture. Learning yoga and meditation will not only help to improve your ability to manage your stress, it will also help you cope better with your infertility !
These tools will help you think lucidly in high-pressure/tense situations and find equilibrium in your life. Infertility can be a major disruptor of marital harmony, and you need to be able to provide a helping hand to your spouse.
For more information and guidance about how you can improve your fertility, contact me via this online form, so that I can guide you in a better way!