There are many factors that contribute to male fertility. Age, medical conditions, smoking, hormones, genetics—all of these considerations impact man’s ability to father a child. But recent studies have determined yet another factor: weight. It has been widely supposed that a woman’s weight impacts her fertility, but this issue crosses the gender line. A Man’s weight impacts his fertility, too. And it’s not just about losing those extra pounds. Even being underweight can reduce fertility.
Impacts of Being Overweight
A study done at Harvard1 looked at data from an infertility center, as well as the results from 14 studies on the subject of weight and sperm count. Researchers found that overweight and obese men are more likely to have lower sperm counts, or even to produce no sperm at all. This fact by itself might not be too surprising, but the numbers may come as a shock. Check out these figures unearthed by the study.
Overweight men are:
- 11% more likely to have a low sperm count
- 39% more likely to have no sperm in their ejaculate
Obese men are:
- 42% more likely to have a low sperm count
- 81% more likely to produce no sperm
Impacts of Being Underweight
Being underweight also has a significant impact on male fertility. Being too lean drives down sperm count and motility2. This is because sperm production is most effective when your body has the appropriate nutrients and protein that are a part of a healthy lifestyle and weight. Without these essential components, the body produces less sperm (and less mobile sperm).
Impacts of Over-Exercising
While you are seeking your ideal weight (weather you are shedding some pounds or building muscle), keep in mind that exercising too much can have its own risks. As you exercise, you raise your body temperature. This includes the temperature of your testicles. Raising your testicular temperature kills your sperm3, and raising the temperature too much and too often will lower your sperm count.
Finding an ideal weight is important to overall health of the body, and it is also an important factor in male fertility. If you are experiencing infertility and are over- or underweight, talk with a physician or nutritionist to find a healthful way to reach an ideal weight. This might just be the issue that is keeping you from optimal fertility.
1. Harvard School of Public Health News (2012). Excess weight may affect sperm production, reduce fertility in men. Retrieved from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/excess-weight-sperm-fertility/
2. Levine, D. (1999). Boxers or briefs: Myths and facts about men’s infertility. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/features/male-infertility-facts
3. UK Health Centre. Fertility and weight. Retrieved from http://www.healthcentre.org.uk/fertility-treatment/fertility-and-weight.html0