Can stress cause infertility in males?
Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert.
Stress can manifest itself in many ways, but can it affect male fertility? This article looks to address the question.
We shall cover the following key points:
- What's male infertility?
- What can cause it?
- The impact of stress
- Techniques to help reduce stress
Stress is one of the biggest health risks that we face in our life, it can be responsible for making any existing health problems worse placing further wear and tear on your body.
In adition, you may pick up habits used to help cope with the effects of stress such as smoking, recreational drugs or alcohol...which can also have a negative impact on your health.
One of the biggest health concerns surrounding stress is that it might cause infertility in males.
There are many causes that can impact the ability to have children, and infertility can make this process very difficult to overcome.
So it is important to know whether stress can cause infertility, and what can be done to combat this.
It has long been known that stress causes and contributes to many health problems, and studies seem to suggest that it can lead to a reduction in sperm quality and cause infertility in males, something we will talk more about later!
Understanding the way stress can impact your reproductive capabilities as a male is important for knowing how to fight back against it.
So let’s take a look at what infertility is in males, and whether or not stress can cause it or exacerbate it.
What is Male Infertility?
Infertility is something that around 1 in 7 couples suffer from, and it might be more common than you would think.
Infertility is defined as not being able to conceive a child despite having spent a year or more having unprotected sex, and this is an issue that male infertility can contribute to; in fact, in around 50% of cases male infertility plays a role.
Male infertility can be caused by an array of factors, including things like:
- Low or zero sperm count
- Abnormal sperm function
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Blockages that negatively impact the production of sperm
When you are trying to get to grips with infertility as a male, it is incredibly important that you do as much as you can to help you understand the symptoms you might need to look out for.
Obviously not being able to conceive a child has to rank as the number one symptom of infertility, but there are a lot of other things you need to keep an eye out for as well, such as, your age, underlying problems and inherited conditions.
If there are other issues that you feel are getting worse, or have presented themselves, visiting a doctor or medical professional would be advisable who may test you and your partners fertility.
Having an idea about the symptoms you need to look out for is really important when you are trying to combat your infertility problems.
What Can Cause It?
There are a lot of things that can contribute to causing infertility, and stress is one of the most common.
And you also need to understand what can cause stress in your life, so you can control it and reduce chances of ill-health.
Stress can come from all sides in your life, and can be caused by many sources in day to day living, this could be the work load in your career, bullying, or life events such as witnessing trauma.
But there are also issues such as anxiety and worry, perhaps about the inability to conceive, the associated costs or even the sexual dysfunction that can cause you stress as well as outlined by Anderson et al, 2010.
A paper published in the Human Reproduction journal states that there is "ample evidence" supporting a reduction of stress to help improve fertility.
The Impact of Stress
According to a study published in 2010, occupational stress has proven to be a leading cause of lower sperm quality in men, thus leading to infertility issues.
Pinpointing exactly how and why stress can lead to infertility remains unclear, however, researchers believe stress could impair testicular function and/or reduce luteinizing hormone which can cause testosterone to drop and negatively affect sperm.
➡️READ: Natural treatments for male infertility
Further considerations may include the reactions and coping mechanisms related to stress which can increase adrenergic activation which is associated with "fight or flight response".
The result is an increase of blood pressure, heart rate and breathing.
An overreaction of adrenergic activation can lead to clinicaly high blood pressure and coronory heart disease and has also been related to vasoconstriction in the testes which may reduce testosterone and spermatogenesis.
Multiple studies over the years have proven that men who feel stressed have a higher chance of experiencing lower testosterone, as well as abnormal sperm production, decreased sperm mobility, and a reduced sperm count.
All of this is vital in the process of reproduction and fertility and can have a major impact on infertility in males.
Techniques to Help Reduce Stress
There are a lot of techniques out there that can help you to reduce stress, and improve your fertility as a result.
This is something that you should be looking to improve upon as much as possible, and there are plenty of ideas that will help you with this.
Focusing on the positive elements of your life and removing or reducing anxiety helps with this.
You also need to make sure you think about taking part in some sort of mindfulness or meditation, and using digital tools to help you with this is so important.
In addition to these, there are plenty of other tips you can use as well, such as listening to music, doing yoga or some form of exercise, engaging in a fun hobby, or spending time with loved ones.
Becoming a healthier and happier person can have a huge benefit to your life, and will help you to reduce stress and help boost fertility.
When you are trying to reduce the risks of infertility as a man, it is important to make sure you tackle stress, as this can lead to lower sperm count and decreased sperm motility.
Trying to live a calmer and more stress-free lifestyle is something that will help significantly.
In addition to removing life and work stress, you should look at some of the best ways of being able to improve sperm quality.
This can be done by observing a healthy and active lifestyle, enjoying a balanced and healthy diet, staying cool, consulting your doctor before using medication, and, of course, living stress-free!
Stress impacts everyone in different ways, and it is important to try to make sure it doesn’t cause you to struggle with infertility.