Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stress and Male Fertility

What does a healthy sperm look like?

I love the above illustration. It very clearly illustrates abnormalities to look for when analyzing semen quality (using a home sperm test). Since anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of all couples infertility cases are caused by male factor infertility, its important to understand what healthy sperm look like, and what you can do to improve sperm quality if your little swimmers aren't up to snuff.

I found this article on and thought it was interesting enough to share:

Stress is an inevitable part of every day life. But new research from the University of California, Berkeley offers one more reason for men to better manage it. When stress hormones, such as cortisol, increase in the male body, it leads to a subsequent decrease in another hormone called gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH). GnRH is made in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, and it plays a role in the production of key hormones (luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone) that can affect the quality and quantity of sperm. This stress/fertility link has been fairly well established in years past. (1,2,3)
Now, scientists have discovered another way by which stress can negatively impact male reproductive health. It appears that glucocortiocoids (stress hormones) also instigate the manufacture of a substance called gonadotropin inhibitory hormone (GnIH). This alteration in brain chemistry encourages a further decline in GnRH and the sex hormones necessary for proper sperm activity and production. Another consequence is a decline in sex drive caused by a drop in testosterone levels. (4)
A study published in June 2009 demonstrated an encouraging effect of an herbal extract called Withania somnifera. This herb goes by the common name of Ashwagandha. It plays a major role in Ayurveda, the Indian healing tradition. Ashwagandha seems to address various problems associated with male infertility. Namely, it is believed to provide a stress-modulating effect, a boost in antioxidant protection and a favorable shift in sex hormone levels. 
I've posted before about how yoga can help boost fertility, but people usually assume this applies only to TTC ladies.  Research shows that male fertility can also benefit from the stress-reducing qualities of a good yoga workout/meditation session. The article also mentions antioxidants being of utmost importance to male fertility, antioxidants like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E.  If you're worried that you're not getting enough of these, consider a fertility vitamin rich in antioxidants, such as FertilAid for Men.

Read the rest of the article here.  Good luck, and don't stress!

1 comment:

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