A new study by researchers in India is showing that obesity can hurt male fertility. Researchers at a fertility center in India analyzed sperm samples from over 1200 men and found that men who were obese (body mass index greater than 30) had lower semen volumes, lower sperm counts, lower sperm motility, and a higher percentage of abnormally shaped sperm. The findings are published in the medical journal, Andrologia.
This is not the first study to show an association between obesity and impaired fertility. In fact, there have now been many reports showing that obesity can be detrimental to both male and female fertility. There are many reasons why this may happen. First, fat cells produce hormones, namely estrogen. When men have an excess number of fat cells, there is a disruption in the normal ratio of estrogen and testosterone in their bodies. This can lead to impaired semen parameters. In addition, the increased weight they carry can lead to higher temperatures surrounding the testicles. Excessive heat exposure can adversely affect sperm production and motility.
For men who are struggling with fertility, it’s important to recognize that body weight may play a role. If their body mass index is 30 or greater, weight loss may help promote improved sperm production and function. As Dr. Wisot reported on our website approximately 1 year ago, a study from Utah showed significantly higher pregnancy rates in obese couples who enrolled in an intense weight loss program. This program consisted of a low calorie diet, exercise, weekly physician visits, and twice weekly counseling sessions.
Weight loss is not an easy task to accomplish. If you’re struggling with weight loss and having a difficult time conceiving, it may be beneficial to speak with your physician about what resources may be available to help you. Also, please visit our Lifestyle & Fertility page, which has some great information about diet and lifestyle changes that may help.