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Unemployment Degrades Male Sperm

Update Date: May 29, 2014 08:10 PM EDT

Chilling out may help men father more children, according to a new study.

New research from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and Rutgers School of Public Health revealed that psychological stress negatively harms sperm and semen quality by deteriorating its concentration, appearance, and ability to fertilize.

"Men who feel stressed are more likely to have lower concentrations of sperm in their ejaculate, and the sperm they have are more likely to be misshapen or have impaired motility," senior author Pam Factor-Litvak, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, said in a news release. "These deficits could be associated with fertility problems."

The latest study involved 193 men between the ages of 38 and 49 who participated in the Study of the Environment and Reproduction at the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan in Oakland, California, between 2005 and 2008.

Participants were asked to fill out questionnaires about work and life stress on subjective scale (how they felt overall) and objective scale (life events behind the stress).

Male participants were asked to provide semen samples, which researchers used to determine concentration, appearance and motility.

The findings revealed that both subjective and objective life stress harmed sperm quality. This was true even after accounting for men's concerns about their fertility, their history of reproductive health problems, or their other health issues.

However, the study revealed that workplace stress did not negatively impact sperm quality. Even still, researchers believe that workplace stress can still influence reproductive health as men with more job stress had lower levels of testosterone. Being unemployed was even worse, according to the study. Researchers found that unemployed men had worse sperm than employed men. This was true regardless of how stressed the men were.

"Stress has long been identified as having an influence on health. Our research suggests that men's reproductive health may also be affected by their social environment," first author Teresa Janevic, PhD, and an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health, said in a news release.

The findings are published in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

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