Washington (ISJ) - If you are into a physically demanding job and running high blood pressure, then your chances of lower fertility count are very high. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health and Stanford University have come forward with a study that says, working in stressed situations and taking multiple medications are among high risks that may undermine their fertility. The study is the first of its kind that examined the relationships between workplace tensions, health and semen quality.
?Nearly 15 percent of U.S. couples do not become pregnant in their first year of trying,? said Germaine Buck Louis, 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.
?Male infertility plays a significant role, and our aim is to explore the influence of environmental factors and health status on semen quality,? he added.
Semen quality is a measure of a man?s ability to achieve fertilization and is based on the number, shape, and movement ability of sperm, as well as other factors.
The study was conducted on more than 500 couples of different age groups from Texas and Michigan over a period of one year. The couples, who were in committed relationships, were not allowed contraception. The male participants were asked about their reproductive history, health, lifestyle and occupation. Most of them were also told to provide their semen sample for analysis.
The final study group comprised 456 men with an average age of 31.8 years. Most were white (77 percent) and college-educated (91 percent); more than half had never fathered a pregnancy.
The researchers found that 13 percent of the men who reported heavy work-related activity had lower sperm counts, compared to 6 percent of the men who reported no workplace exertion. In contrast, no other work-related exposure, such as heat, noise or prolonged sitting, appeared to influence semen quality.
It was also found that those suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol had a lower percentage of normally shaped sperm. Those who had no high blood pressure had higher sperm counts.
?Future investigations need to examine whether it?s the high blood pressure itself or the treatment that is driving these trends,? said Michael L. Eisenberg, the study?s principal investigator and director of Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
It was also found that a man taking more medications ran high risk of a low sperm count. For example, 7 percent of the men who did not take medications had sperm counts below 39 million (a normal sperm count is between 40 million and 300 million). Of the men who reported taking two or more medications, 15 percent had sperm counts below 39 million.
However, all is not lost. The factors that lead to negative effects on male fertility can be modified by medical care and changing job-related behaviours.
Source & Image: US National Institute of Health