In a new Israeli study, researchers have discovered that two months of serious stress can cause a significant negative impact on the health of a man’s sperm. Specifically, prolonged stressful situations were found to decrease the mobility of the sperm, affecting their ability to reach and fertilise the egg effectively.
“This study shows that prolonged stress can have an effect on sperm quality,” said study author Dr Eliahu Levitas.
Levitas went on to clarify that their findings were the first to identify the specific mechanisms of how stress negatively impacts sperm health. “Mental stress is known to have an adverse effect on fertility, but there is little research on the impact of stress on sperm quality.”
The finding were a result of research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva, and studied around 11000 sperm samples from men around Israel. These included men from both peaceful regions as well as those living in conflict zones like the Gaza Strip.
According to the results, those living in high-risk conflict zones (aka permanently stressed) were 47 per cent more likely to have fertility issues, related to immobile sperm production.
Although the effects of war are an obviously an extreme stressor, the researchers suggest that the results are equally applicable to a variety of mental health conditions related to stress. The exact reason why sperm are immobilised due to stress are unknown, however the researches suggest that the identified trends are enough to solidify a relationship between the two.
The study is the latest in a string of helpful research relating to protecting the fertility of men around the world, with researchers also identifying exercise, sleep and even underwear choice as key to promoting healthy sperm.