The Impact of Stress on Sperm and Semen Quality


Stress is a part of everyday life for almost everyone. But what exactly is stress, and what effect has it on your sperm quality?

Understanding the impact of stress on sperm quality is an essential first step. When you know the cause of poor sperm quality, you can do something about it!

Stress is defined by both emotional and physiological reactions. An individual experiences these reactions in situations where the demand goes beyond the individual’s ability to cope.

Short-term stress can be a big motivator and can at times make people perform at their best. For example, a competition is a situation where short-term stress can make us perform. But when stress continuously occurs, it may become chronic and affect daily routines and interrupt body functions. It can be very unhealthy – especially when it goes on for an extended period.

Psychological stress has been linked to both higher mortality and various diseases. For example, these include cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and components of the metabolic syndrome. All of these have been linked to lower sperm quality. Furthermore, there is significant research suggesting that men’s reproductive health may also be affected by their social environment.

What does stress do to your body?

In general, stress uses up your body’s resources. That can lead to a bad immune system and hormone imbalances, making the body and mind susceptible to diseases and weak in fighting harmful environmental exposures.

When it comes to sperm quality, stress is associated with lower testosterone levels and something called ‘oxidative stress’. Having a high testosterone level and a low level of free radicals, which cause oxidative stress, play an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

People can evaluate and report stress in different ways. This makes it difficult to compare studies. Even if the majority of the studies conclude that there is a negative association between stress and  sperm quality, some findings are a little contradicting in their conclusions.

What can stress do to impact sperm quality? – The scientific findings

In a Danish study from 2016 with 1,215 male participants, the results showed that high self-reported stress is associate with lower semen volume, total sperm count, and sperm concentration, as well a lower number healthy looking sperm cells. Men with the highest stress scores showed to have most affected parameters.

In another study where life events were evaluated, the researchers found that men who experienced two or more stressful life events within 12 months of each other had a lower percentage of sperm motility and a smaller percentage of sperm of normal morphology, compared with men who did not experience any stressful life events.

Even if it would be natural to think that reducing stress level can improve sperm quality and enhance fertility in both men and women, few studies have investigated this matter. One study from 2008 looked into stress therapy and the impact on sperm quality. The study divided 20 men into two groups – participants in Group A got stress reducing therapy (CRM therapy) as treatment, and Group B where participants didn’t get any treatment. The study showed that men who were exposed to stress-reducing therapy (Group A) clearly had improved their semen motility and significantly increased healthy sperm cell count. This indicates that stress is an additional risk factor for male infertility.

What can YOU do to relieve stress?

Well, you may have thought about what to do to reduce stress, but haven’t taken the opportunity to stop and make an effort. Don’t worry, this is normal for most people with busy lives.

We have gathered the most beneficial tips in the box below.

  • Exercise – Try to keep a simple routine and do something you enjoy.
  • Consider supplements – There are lots of natural supplements available to help reduce stress – Speak to one of our consultants and find out more.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake – Maybe remove one or two cups from your daily coffee routine.
  • Write your issues down – Seeing your problems on paper sometimes simplifies your issues.
  • Make time to spend with friends and family – Give your self more time.
  • Learn to say no – You can’t please everyone, but you should please yourself.


Do you want to learn more? Check out our other lifestyle blog articles!

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