As men's weight rises, sperm health may fall

September 20, 2017 by Steven Reinberg, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—A widening waistline may make for shrinking numbers of sperm, new research suggests.

Indian scientists studied more than 1,200 men and found that too much extra weight was linked to a lower volume of semen, a lower sperm count and lower sperm concentration.

In addition, sperm motility (the ability to move quickly through the female reproductive tract) was poor. The sperm had other defects as well, the researchers added. Poor sperm quality can lower fertility and the chances of conception.

"It's known that obese women take longer to conceive," said lead researcher Dr. Gottumukkala Achyuta Rama Raju, from the Center for Assisted Reproduction at the Krishna IVF Clinic, in Visakhapatnam. "This study proves that obese men are also a cause for delay in conception," he added.

"Parental obesity at conception has deleterious effects on embryo health, implantation, pregnancy and birth rates," Rama Raju explained.

How obesity affects sperm quality isn't known, he pointed out.

But in continuing research, the study team is looking to see if losing weight will improve the quality of sperm.

Although that study is still in progress, early signs look good that sperm quality improves as men lose weight, Rama Raju said.

One U.S. fertility expert said the findings have broad implications in America.

"About one-third of men in the United States are obese," said Dr. Avner Hershlag, chief of Northwell Health Fertility in Manhasset, N.Y.

America is getting fatter and fatter, despite the proliferation of new diets and exercise routines. And about one-sixth of children and adolescents are already obese, Hershlag noted.

"Along with the growing obesity trend, there has been a steady decline in sperm quality," Hershlag said. "The findings in this study, while not specifically related to infertility, represent a trend towards a decline that is worrisome."

Recent reports have found that extreme weight loss after bariatric surgery reversed some of the sperm decline, he said.

"The message to men is don't continue to abuse your body," Hershlag said. "Comfort foods and excess alcohol are bound to make you uncomfortable and put you at a higher risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, which are all life-shortening, and may also put a damper on your path to fatherhood."

For the study, Rama Raju and his colleagues used computer-aided sperm analysis to assess the sperm of 1,285 men. Obese men, they found, had fewer sperm, a lower concentration of sperm and inability of the sperm to move at a normal speed, compared with the sperm of men of normal weight.

Moreover, the sperm of obese men had more defects than other sperm. These defects included defects in the head of the sperm, such as thin heads and pear-shaped heads.

All of these sperm abnormalities may make it more difficult for obese men to achieve conception, either through sexual intercourse or through IVF, the researchers said. But the study did not prove that obesity causes sperm quality to drop.

According to Rama Raju, this is the first study of abnormal sperm in obese men based on computer-aided assessment. The report was published online Sept. 19 in the journal Andrologia.

Computer-aided sperm analysis might be something doctors should do before IVF, he suggested.

Dr. Nachum Katlowitz, director of urology at Staten Island University Hospital, in New York City, pointed out that "the effect of obesity on sperm is another reason why Americans need to work on this epidemic."

The idea that obesity affects sperm is well known, he said. "There's no doubt we should take this information as another link in the chain to push us to help our patients obtain a healthy balance and a slimmer waistline," Katlowitz said.

Explore further: Males conceived via fertility treatment may have weakened sperm: study

More information: G. A. Ramaraju et al, Association between obesity and sperm quality, Andrologia (2017). DOI: 10.1111/and.12888

Related Stories

Males conceived via fertility treatment may have weakened sperm: study

October 7, 2016
(HealthDay)—Males who were conceived using an infertility treatment where sperm is injected into an egg may themselves have lower sperm quantity and quality than those conceived naturally, Belgian researchers report.

New test assesses sperm function

April 26, 2017
Two new publications in the journal Molecular Reproduction and Development validate the usefulness of a test that determines if sperm can capacitate, a process that allows them to fertilize an egg.

Use of IVF procedure for male infertility has doubled; not linked with improved outcomes

January 20, 2015
The use of an assisted reproduction technique known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) doubled between 1996 and 2012, although compared with conventional in vitro fertilization (IVF), use of ICSI was not associated ...

Proteins linked to HIV transmission could actually be beneficial for reproduction

June 27, 2017
Protein fragments found in semen, and previously only known for their ability to enhance HIV infection, also appear to play an important role in reproductive biology. A team of researchers from the Gladstone Institutes, the ...

Recommended for you

Team's study reveals hidden lives of medical biomarkers

October 12, 2018
What do medical biomarkers do on evenings and weekends, when they might be considered off the clock?

Widespread errors in 'proofreading' cause inherited blindness

October 12, 2018
Mistakes in "proofreading" the genetic code of retinal cells is the cause of a form of inherited blindness, retinitis pigmentosa (RP) caused by mutations in splicing factors.

Researchers create a functional salivary gland organoid

October 11, 2018
A research group led by scientists from Showa University and the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research in Japan have, for the first time, succeeded in growing three-dimensional salivary gland tissue that, when implanted ...

Lassa fever vaccine shows promise and reveals new test for immunity

October 11, 2018
Lassa fever belongs to the same class of hemorrhagic fevers as Ebola. Like Ebola, it has been a major health threat in Western Africa, infecting 100,000-300,000 people and killing 5,000 per year. A new vaccine against both ...

Genetically engineered 3-D human muscle transplant in a murine model

October 10, 2018
A growing need for tissues and organs in surgical reconstruction is addressed by the promising field of tissue engineering. For instance, muscle atrophy results from severe traumatic events including deep burns and cancer, ...

Engineers develop process to 3-D print cells to produce human tissue such as ligaments and tendons

October 10, 2018
With today's technology, we can 3-D-print sculptures, mechanical parts, prosthetics, even guns and food. But a team of University of Utah biomedical engineers have developed a method to 3-D-print cells to produce human tissue ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.