Obesity affects sperm quality and quantity

May 13, 2022
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Sperm health is a very important factor for conception. Unhealthy sperm or a low sperm count can cause various problems in conceiving and can sometimes even make conception impossible. It is, therefore, very important to ensure proper health of the semen. This can be achieved in various ways, as multiple factors affect the quality and quantity of the sperm.

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What exactly is sperm quality?

In simple terms, sperm quality or semen quality is the ability of the semen to achieve fertilization. Some of the factors taken into account while measuring sperm quality are:

  • Liquefaction: the time taken to liquefy is taken into account.
  • Viscosity: highly viscous semen may be a sign of prostatic dysfunction.
  • Volume: lower volumes of sperm may be an indicator of hypospermia.
  • pH: it should be greater than 7.1 as lower values might be due to lack of sperm in the semen.
  • Color: the color should be white or light yellow.
  • Concentration: lower sperm concentration may be due to oligozoospermia.
  • Vitality: percentage of vital sperm must be above fifty-eight in a healthy sample.
  • Motility: the progressive motility should be over thirty-two percent in a healthy semen sample.

The above parameters help assess the quality of the sperm and predict the fertilizing capability of the sperm. The parameters that determine the sperm quality are affected by various direct and indirect factors.

Factors affecting sperm quality:

Some of the factors that play a vital role in determining the quality of the sperm are:

  • Age: the quality of the sperm, including motility and volume decrease with age.
  • Heat: sperm are heat sensitive, and frequent activities like sauna sessions, bathing in hot water etc. may negatively affect the quality.
  • Trauma: external trauma to the testicles can affect the quality of the sperm.
  • Medications: certain medications and hormones may also interfere with the sperm production and affect the quality.
  • Diet: eating certain food items, or junk food, in general, can lower the quality of the sperm.
  • Environment: exposure to certain pollutants, chemicals, radioactive wastes etc. also negatively affects the sperm quality.
  • Lifestyle: leading a sedentary lifestyle is linked to a lower quality of sperm.

Must read- What is the link between lifestyle and sperm count?

Role of obesity:

It is difficult to control most factors responsible for sperm quality (like age, genetics, trauma, exposure to chemicals etc). However, factors related to diet and lifestyle, which equally impact the quality of the sperm, can be easily controlled. Studies have found that obesity is one of the major factors in contemporary times that has affected the quality and quantity of sperm in men. Obesity is a growing epidemic, which must be controlled, as it affects various aspects of individual health including reproductive health.

Obesity and sperm:

Recent studies show that obesity is detrimental to the quality and quantity of sperm. A study, based on computer-aided sperm analysis, assessed more than a thousand men and found that obesity was linked to a lower value of sperm count, lower volume of semen, lower concentration, motility, and greater sperm defects. The study concluded that in obese men, the health of the sperm is compromised both qualitatively as well as quantitatively. Even when the semen parameters were compared between infertile obese men and infertile normal-weighted men, the quality, quantity, and morphology of sperm in obese men were poor as compared to those with a normal weight. This shows the extent to which obesity affects the quality as well as the quantity of the sperm and the overall reproductive health of the individual. Studies also suggest that parental obesity may also affect the fertility of the children.

Way forward:

Overweight people struggling with infertility should seriously consider losing weight when trying to conceive. Though getting rid of obesity is always beneficial, it becomes especially important for people facing fertility problems. A healthy body weight can increase the quality as well as the quantity of sperm. Obesity is also linked to infertility in women, and hence women should also consider shedding extra weight before conception.

Cloudnine's fertility center has some of the best infertility specialists who are highly experienced in treating infertility. Cloudnine is one of the best fertility hospitals and our highly qualified team of doctors and state of the art facilities provide you with precise diagnosis and best possible treatment for infertility problems.