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."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in