Stressors Impact on Male Fertility.

With nearly half of infertility cases attributed to a failure in sperm development (spermatogenesis), it’s important to consider the exceptional variety of contributing factors in a fertility case. These may consist of; age, mental stress, diet, fitness, caffeine intake, high temperatures, mobile phone placement, and environmental exposure (Ilacqua, Izzo, Emerenziani, Baldari & Aversa (2018). All of which, when out of balance, can cause high oxidative stress and damage to sperm DNA, therefore creating poor or inviable sperm.

For example, long-term exposure to RF-EMR from mobile phones being kept in pockets close to reproductive organs has shown to significantly decrease good swimming sperm count, and potentially increase sperm DNA damage (Gorpinchenko, Nikitin, Banyra & Shulyak, 2014). And yet, how many people keep their phones in their side pockets all day long, without knowing. Of course, these are all aspects of a person's lifestyle that a naturopath will advise on, but let’s take a closer look at stress. This is the number one crossover between disease states, as psychological stress has physical impacts. It is normal, it happens to everyone, every day. Acute stress that resolves quickly may impair testicular function for a short period of time, but it’s the chronic stress that has the bigger impact (Ilacqua, et al., 2018). Chronic stress from daily life (lasting more than a few months) will show other symptoms, though in the case of fertility, it is marked by the presence of glucocorticoid receptors in the testicles (the Leydig, Sertoli and germ cells in particular). Remembering that cortisol is a glucocorticoid, we can see that prolonged high levels cause cell death (apoptosis). Ilacqua, et al. (2018) note that the response to this is 39% decreased sperm concentration, 48% decreased motility, though no changes to volume or morphology just yet. Poor morphology (or structure) of sperm likely is a result of poor nutrition or increased nutritional needs elsewhere (e.g. in healing). The authors also note the stress levels can rise during infertility treatment. This makes stress management and self care the number one priority during pre-conception.

There are many changeable stressors, such as diet and phone placement, and some non-changeable aspects, such as age and inherited complications. A naturopath can assist, or advise on most of those mentioned, though a lot of it is patient input. As the lifespan of a sperm cell is around 64 days, it will therefore be safe to assume that treatment for infertility or preconception care will take at least 64 days (more because an egg takes 90 days to develop).


Gorpinchenko, I., Nikitin, O., Banyra, O. & Shulyak, A. (2014). The influence of direct mobile phone radiation on sperm quality. Central European Journal of Urology, vol 67. Issue 1. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4074720/#:~:text=The%20authors%20concluded%20that%20the,to%20cell%20phones%20%5B12%5D.

Ilacqua, A., Izzo, G., Emerenziani, G., Baldari, C. & Aversa, A. (2018). Lifestyle and fertility: the influence of stress and quality of life on male fertility. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, vol 16. Issue 115. Retrieved from: https://rbej.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12958-018-0436-9


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