Israeli researchers find that prolonged stress affects sperm quality

Israeli researchers find that prolonged stress affects sperm quality

Scientist at Ben-Gurion and Soroka University discover a big difference in samples from those in military conflict

Working at the laboratory
Working at the laboratory

Israeli researchers have found that prolonged stress can impact the quality of sperm, after tests from donations during military conflict.

Comparing them to sperm donations during routine periods, researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Soroka University Medical Center in Be’ersheva noticed a marked difference in more than a third of the samples.

“Mental stress is known to have an adverse effect on fertility, but there is little research on the impact of stress on sperm quality,” said BGU’s Dr Eliahu Levitas. “This study shows that prolonged stress can have an effect on sperm quality.”

The study, based on more than 10,500 samples, was presented at the International Summit on Assisted Reproduction and Genetics in Israel last week. It showed that 37 percent of the sperm samples taken during a stressful period had low sperm motility, the term used to describe the ability of sperm to move of ‘swim’.

The probability of weak motility in sperm samples taken during periods of prolonged stress was 47 percent higher, they said. Weak motility makes it less likely that the sperm will successfully fertilise an egg.

“Our reasoning was that even men who heard incoming rocket warning sirens during a conflict experienced stress throughout the day over a longer period,” said Levitas. “We were surprised to discover that there is a connection between the security situation and the sperm counts.”

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