Are Men Stressing Out Their Sperm?

A recent study shows that stress degrades sperm quality.

"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," says Teresa Janevic, PhD.

The journal of Fertility and Sterility recently published results suggesting that psychological stress is harmful to sperm and semen quality, affecting its concentration, appearance, and ability to fertilize an egg.

"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," says senior author Pam Factor-Litvak, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health. "These deficits could be associated with fertility problems."

It is not fully understood how stress affects semen quality. It may trigger the release of steroid hormones called glucocorticoids, which in turn could blunt levels of testosterone and sperm production. Another possibility is oxidative stress, which has been shown to affect semen quality and fertility.

Yoga, meditation and mindfulness have been successful stress reduction techniques for other health outcomes and might be helpful for fertility as well.

At Integrative Fertility we have lots of resources for stress reduction from home practice tips to local meditation instructors. Please contact us at if you'd like help finding a method that's right for you.


Teresa Janevic, Linda G. Kahn, Paul Landsbergis, Piera M. Cirillo, Barbara A. Cohn, Xinhua Liu, Pam Factor-Litvak. Effects of work and life stress on semen quality. Fertility and Sterility, 2014