Why Stress Impairs Male Fertility
Between the pandemic, the long commute, a demanding boss, your "hilarious" coworkers, national politics, and scary world affairs, it can be difficult to "get in the mood." But even though we can often put life's stressful things out of our minds and get jiggy, conceiving may still be difficult. One thing to consider is that stress can have an effect on male fertility.
Now, we don't want to put extra stress on you, but if you are wanting to increase the size of your family, decreasing the size of your stress would be a good place to start. Also, if you are in a family planning mindset, looking at making some lifestyle and dietary changes might be a good idea.
It may not be the most macho of topics, but it turns out that producing sperm, spermatogenesis, is fraught with pitfalls. Fertility researchers have studied a wide range of possible causes of reduced sperm quality like:
- Physical activity
- Scrotal temperature
- Mobile telephone use
Yeah... cell phones. In Cell Phones and Male Infertility: Dissecting the Relationship, (we don't choose the titles, yikes!), researchers found that the use of cell phones adversely affects the quality of semen by decreasing the sperm counts, motility, viability, and morphology. In other words, the number, the wiggliness, effectiveness, and shape of the sperm cells. More studies are needed to determine just how cell phones cause the damage and whether carrying the phone in a pants pocket is an exacerbating condition.
Speaking of scrotal temperature (Oh we're getting to know each other now!), have you ever wondered why men's testes are outside their bodies? Doesn't it seem like Nature played a cruel trick by making them so extremely susceptible to pain, yet so vulnerable to a swift kick? Like maybe those bad boys should have evolved inside the body? Well, it turns out there is actually a reason they're outside: temperature. Spermatogenesis happens at a temperature a few degrees cooler than normal body temperature.
That's why fertility researchers have also studied the effects of things like bath temperature on spermatogenesis. Since the testicles need to be slightly cooler than 98.6OF, sitting in a hot bath of 102OF, might cause a problem. In fact, the Fertility Associates of Memphis offers these tips to help men keep their jigglies in their swimming prime:
- Avoid spending prolonged periods of time in hot tubs and/or Jacuzzis.
- Don’t wear tight-fitting pants or underwear.
- Do not sit for long periods of time without getting up.
- Avoid prolonged bike rides, especially in the heat.
- Don’t put a laptop computer directly on your lap for long periods of time.
An article from The Journal of Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, Lifestyle and Fertility: the Influence of Stress and Quality of Life on Male Fertility, says that male infertility accounts for about half of the cases of couples having trouble conceiving. The researchers point to studies that provide evidence for a connection between decreased sperm quality and stress. Apparently, semen quality is impaired by psychological stress.
Many of the studies were done on populations that have no control over the stressors in their lives, such as living in a war zone, experiencing natural disasters like an earthquake, or community upheaval such as the closure of a town's largest employer. However, many studies were done on populations that had "self-reported stress," such as university exams or a demanding work environment. Taken together, these studies remove all doubt about the role of stress in putting a funk on one's spunk.
In an article from MedicalNewsToday.com, Stress Linked to Male Fertility, researchers found that men who experienced two or more stressful life events in the past year had a lower percentage of sperm motility and a lower percentage of sperm of normal morphology, compared with men who did not experience any stressful life events. They found that men who experienced job strains had lower levels of the hormone testosterone in their semen, which could affect reproductive health. Additionally, they found that the stress of being unemployed led to lower semen quality than in those who were employed.
How can stress affect semen quality?
Stress activates the release of glucocorticoids, steroid hormones that affect the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. These particular hormones can reduce testosterone levels and sperm production. Furthermore, stress can trigger oxidative stress. This physiological stress on the body causes damage from un-neutralized free radicals which have been associated with semen quality and fertility.
Destress When in Distress
Family planning can be stressful enough without the added stressor of worrying about sperm quality. When life is getting a bit overwhelming, visit our Pittsburgh store located at 3707 Butler Street or visit our online store for a selection of stress-relieving products:
- Stress Free Tea, available in-store only.
- Clary sage essential oil: It warms your olfactory senses with a slightly spicy and musky aroma and is excellent for calming, erasing fatigue, and boosting your Qi. Additionally, clary sage essential oil is also an excellent third eye stimulator; good for both intuition and intellect.
- Bergamot essential oil: Its bright, citrus scent is refreshing, uplifting, and relaxing. Feel your Qi smooth and balance with a little bergamot essential oil, a deep breath, and a smile.
- Lavender essential oil: Its fresh, herbaceous, and floral aroma will wrap you in a warm fuzzy blanket. Your Heart Qi loves lavender for its calming properties, bringing a sense of balance and peace.
- Relaxation Herbal Bath Salts: The ideal herbal bath soak for when you need to let go of the day and escape to a quiet space. Soaking in Dead Sea and Epsom salts reduces inflammation while detoxifying your body - allowing you to release all of that stress. Organic lavender flowers and lavender essential oil calm the central nervous system, reduce heart rate, and quiet the mind.
- Revive Organic Bath Salts: The perfect herbal bath soak for when you just want to feel good and smile! Pink Himalayan and Epsom Salt create a soak rich in minerals and magnesium, detoxifying as it releases tension from your body.
- Euphoria Organic Foot Soak: Take the time to care for yourself and your hard-working feet with this herbal foot soak. Dead Sea and Epsom Salts reduce swelling and inflammation. We boost this power with organic arnica, organic lavender flowers, and organic calendula flowers - all known as anti-inflammatory, soothing, and calming herbs. Breathe deeply, enjoy the lavender essential oil along with the juniper essential oil and let the stress go.
- Love Honey Intimacy Aid: Make a little love… destress tonight! Designed to keep play time fun for all and your lady bits happy (not irritated). Love honey is made without harsh chemicals or additives. We have included Amazonian love herbs for him and her, because we all deserve to have more amazing Love in our lives!
Other Ways to Boost Sperm Health
- Physical exercise: Every article about stress and/or sperm health mentions getting plenty of exercise.
- Eliminate high-caffeine sports drinks.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Eat a diet high in antioxidants: Antioxidants help fight free-radicals. They are found in fruits and vegetables, especially those high in vitamins E and C. See Antioxidants Explained in Simple Terms for more information.
- Nutrition: A high fat diet has been shown to reduce sperm quality.
- Quit smoking (stressful in short-term, unfortunately!)
Boosting your chances of conception is a job for both genders. A fertility doctor can determine if there is an actual medical issue, however men can increase the chances of pregnancy by boosting the health of their sperm by destressing and making smart lifestyle choices.
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