Men With Physically Demanding Jobs, High Cholesterol Have Lower Sperm Counts


Working in a physically demanding job, having high blood pressure and taking multiple medications could impact a man’s fertility, according to a new study conducted by the National Institutes of Health and Stanford University.

“Nearly 15 percent of U.S. couples do not become pregnant in their first year of trying,” Germaine Buck Louis, Ph.D., the study’s senior author and director of the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said. “Male infertility plays a significant role, and our aim is to explore the influence of environmental factors and health status on semen quality.”

Researchers studied more than 500 couples in Texas and Michigan over the period of a year. Each couple was monogamous and had stopped using contraception. Male participants were asked for a history of their health and most provided semen samples.

Most of the men were around the age of 30, white and college educated. More than half had never fathered a pregnancy. Some 13 percent of the men who reported having physically demanding jobs had lower sperm counts, compared to 6 percent of men who reported no workplace exertion. Men who reported being diagnoses with high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol also had a lower sperm count. Some 15 percent of men who took more than two medications had low sperm counts.

“The good news is that these factors, if they are confirmed to have negative effects on male fertility, can potentially be modified by medical care or changing job-related behaviors ,” NIH’s Dr. Buck Louis said. “We look forward to additional research in this area.”

Michael L. Eisenberg, M.D., the study’s principal investigator and director of Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, noted that as men have children later in life it’s important to explore fertility and its relation to diseases. Future research should examine if the disease, like high blood pressure, is the cause or the treatment delivered for the disease.

Source: National Institutes of Health / Photo Credit: Flickr


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