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New Study Shows Link Between Stress and Sperm Fertility

September 4, 2018
Katie Visco

New studies conducted by the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center in Israel purport to show a link between the stress level of a man and his sperm quality. The findings showed a 47% chance that sperm motility may be affected by even just two months of extreme stress across over 11,000 sperm samples. This information will most likely do no favors for the stress levels of men whose careers require them to be in high-stress environments on a day to day basis.

There may, of course, be some quibbling yet over what exactly is meant by “extreme stress.” The study specifically used men who had been exposed to air raid sirens in the Gaza Strip on a regular basis in drawing its 47% figure, but it is unknown how stress experienced in a combat zone compares to other stressful situations. The researchers themselves are adamant that the principle observed here applies universally, as the study’s author Dr. Eliahu Levitas was quoted as saying: “Mental stress is known to have an adverse effect on fertility, but there is little research on the impact of stress on sperm quality. This study shows that prolonged stress can have an effect on sperm quality.”

Another round of studies may be necessary on other such high stress professions such as professional athletes, wall-street stockbrokers, NASCAR pit crews, and various types of military personnel to see if the researchers’ findings thus far can be applied universally. Perhaps we can discern where exactly this stress threshold is and prescribe some regimen for staying beneath it.


What you can do now.

running man

If you’re a family-minded guy who’d like to make sure the process of becoming a father goes as smoothly as possible there are some steps you can take to avoid most conditions shown to lower sperm motility. Having high blood pressure, and taking multiple medications are among the health risks that may undermine a man’s fertility, so get in shape and eat healthy for best results. You can also avoid stress, which is, of course, awful advice for someone looking to reduce their stress level, as nothing makes you calm down less than being told to calm down. In any case, reducing stress is in many ways like reducing blood pressure or body fat; a process. Learn some breathing exercises, invest in one of those stress balls, and do your best to avoid undue work stress and you should see improvement.

You can also avoid sterilizing chemical factors, such as smoking, excess drinking, and pesticides. In general, just try to keep in mind that your sperm is a product of your own body and will generally reflect the health of that body. Much of the same “treat your body like a temple” kind of advice we give to our women readers still applies, so partners trying to conceive can take comfort in munching celery and hitting the treadmill together.

Take Ownership

Fertility is a two-way street.

couples walking on a beach

Together is a big word there, as it can be easy to merely think of fertility as a women’s health concern and not a men’s one as well. It’s often presented to us as a problem exclusively for women, with tales of ectopic pregnancies, and hostile wombs, and older relatives throwing the word “barren” around at family gatherings. However this presentation of the problem is simply not true, a large percentage of couples struggling with fertility are actually experiencing some problem or another on the male partner’s end. Sperm analyses are cheaper than most equivalent tests and procedures for women, so before you break the bank ordering ovulation kits and seeing specialized medical professionals consider getting your sperm quality tested. You may save yourself a lot of time, money and heartbreak, though it’s just as if not more likely that nothing will be wrong at all.


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