Sperm count is a sign of both male health and human fertility, with low levels being linked to a higher risk of chronic illness, testicular cancer, and a shorter life span.
Male fertility has been shown to be impacted by psychological stress in a number of studies to date. Researchers at the Banaras Hindu University are examining sub-chronic psychological stress and its effects on male fertility because it is unclear exactly how stress can damage the testicular cells that give rise to sperm.
For a total of 30 days, the research team subjected rats to sub-chronic stress for 1.5 to 3 hours each day while measuring the quantity and quality of sperm. The study found that everyday sperm production has “severely deteriorated.” The study also discovered a structural or morphological abnormality in the sperm, specifically that stress exposure negatively impacted the epididymal spermatozoa (the sperm stored and matured in one of the male reproductive accessory structures called the epididymis). The normal sperm morphology consists of three parts, known as the head, neck, and tail. The study found abnormalities in the sperm’s basic structure, with spermatozoa with tail abnormalities occurring more frequently than those with head abnormalities.
So, does stress really impact the quality of sperm?
The answer is “yes,” as researchers concur that oligozoospermia, or having less than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen, is caused by lifestyle variables.
“These days, there are more occurrences of infertility due to altered lifestyles, high levels of stress, late marriages, poor eating habits, and a lack of physical activity. Stress brought on by work, school, or a healthier lifestyle is unconsciously altering the body’s hormonal balance. Due to lower sperm motility and sperm count, this is having an effect on male infertility, according to Dr. Sushma Tomar, consultant obstetrician and gynecologist at Fortis Hospital in Kalyan.
According to Dr. Tomar, stress can lead to bodily inflammation, which can harm the cells that create sperm. Additionally, the immune system deteriorates, making it more challenging for the body to fight off diseases. It may occasionally also result in mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Unnaturalized free radicals can also be damaged by oxidative stress or physiological stress, which has been linked to fertility and semen quality. Tobacco and alcohol use can have a little negative effect on sperm quality, according to Dr. Tomar.
Ejaculation issues can also be brought on by one’s sperm count and motility, which are affected by one’s level of worry. According to Dr. Tomar, “5% of wives and 35% of husbands have fertility challenges,” and in some situations, both partners report having issues. Other major causes of infertility besides stress include erectile dysfunction and plugged tubes.
Dr. Tomar suggests the following methods for managing stress
Using relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, or meditation. He also recommended laughter therapy as a way to decompress. Regular physical activity, adequate sleep, a good diet, staying in touch with friends and family, and seeking professional assistance when necessary are all recommended.
All of these enable stress reduction, which enhances fertility and a person’s general welfare, according to Dr. Prashanth.