The Impact of Stress on Sperm and Semen Quality

Stress is a part of everyday life for almost everyone. But what exactly is stress? Stress is defined by the emotional and physiological reactions experienced when an individual confronts a situation in which the demands go beyond their ability to cope.

Short term stress can be a big motivator and at times can make people perform at their best, for example in competitions. But when stress continuously occurs, it may become chronic and affect daily routines and interrupt body functions. It can be very unhealthy – especially when it goes on for an extended period.

Psychological stress has been linked to higher mortality and various diseases, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, and components of the metabolic syndrome, which have all been linked to lower sperm quality. There is significant research suggesting that men’s reproductive health may also be affected by their social environment.

What does stress do?

In general, stress uses up your body resources which can lead to a bad immune system and hormone imbalances, making the body and mind susceptible to diseases and weak in fighting harmful environmental exposures.

Understanding how much stress can affect sperm quality is an essential first step. When you know the cause of poor sperm quality, you can do something about it!

When It comes to sperm quality, stress is shown to be associated with lower testosterone levels and something called ‘oxidative stress’, both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

Stress can be evaluated and reported by people in different ways. This makes it difficult to compare studies. Although the majority of the studies conclude that there is a negative association between stress and sperm quality, some findings are a little contraindicative in their conclusions.

What can stress do to sperm – The scientific findings

In a Danish study from 2016 with 1.215 male participants, the results showed that high self-reported stress was associated with lower semen volume, total sperm count, sperm concentration and healthy looking sperm cells. Men with the highest stress scores showed to have most affected parameters.

In another study where life events were evaluated, the researchers found that men who experienced two or more stressful life events within 12 months of each other had a lower percentage of sperm motility and a smaller percentage of sperm of normal morphology, compared with men who did not experience any stressful life events.

Although it would be natural to think that reducing stress level can improve sperm quality and enhance fertility in both men and women, few studies have investigated this matter. One study from 2008 looked into stress therapy and the impact on sperm quality. The 20 men were divided into two groups – group A where the participants were treated with stress reducing therapy (CRM therapy) and group B who didn’t get any treatment. The study showed that men who were exposed to stress-reducing therapy (Group A) clearly had improved their semen motility and significantly increased healthy sperm cell count indicating that stress is an additional risk factor for male infertility.

What can YOU do to relieve stress?

Well, you may have thought about what to do to reduce stress but haven’t taken the opportunity to stop and make an effort. Don’t worry, this is normal for most people with busy lives.

We have gathered the most beneficial tips in the box below.

  • Exercise – Try to keep a simple routine and do something you enjoy.
  • Consider supplements – There are lots of natural supplements available to help reduce stress – Speak to one of our consultants and find out more.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake – Maybe remove one or two cups from your daily coffee routine.
  • Write your issues down – Seeing your problems on paper sometimes simplifies your issues.
  • Make time to spend with friends and family – Give your self more time.
  • Learn to say no – You can’t please everyone, but you should please yourself.
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