Sperm count linked to stress

MEN WHO bottle up their emotions could be decreasing their ability to produce healthy sperm, British psychologists said yesterday.

In a study of 50 men attending an infertility clinic, researchers found that those who expressed their emotions by talking about problems and telling colleagues and loved ones when they were upset or frustrated had higher sperm counts than those who did not.

The preliminary findings open the way for men with below-average sperm counts, or zero sperm unconnected to genetic or chromosomal defects, to improve their fertility by altering the way they cope with stressful events.

"Men who are on death row for long periods completely stop making sperm. The implication is that because they are under high levels of stress, it has, in this extreme case, led to a complete breakdown of reproductive potential," said Keith Hurst, who conducted the research with a fellow psychologist at Leeds University, Dr Louise Dye, and a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist from the Halifax General Hospital, Martin DeBono.

One explanation for the potential link between fertility and stress is that the increased levels of hormones produced under stress could inhibit the production of some other hormones needed to produce healthy sperm.

The men studied were divided into those who had subnormal sperm counts and those who had normal levels. They all completed questionnaires on how they much they wanted a child, how much stress they had in their lives and their socio-economic background. There were no significant differences between the groups.

The men then kept a diary on any potentially stressful situations they had encountered and how they had dealt with them.

Although the men who had normal sperm counts experienced more stressful events, the way they coped with them was very different. An analysis of their behaviour showed that they used a cathartic coping mechanism, such as confiding in a colleague, 21 per cent more often than the other men. Mr Hurst said: "Possibly the additional use of cathartic coping in the fertile men has reduced their potential stress levels ... An increased use of this particular method of coping may be beneficial to sub-fertile men."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will also work alongside their seasoned sa...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for your first step into...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical Design Engineer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative company working...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat