We all know that stress isn’t good for us. And if asked, we could probably do a pretty fair job of rattling off why: it increases your heart attack risk, can cause problems in at work and in your personal relationships, can lead to depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Now we can add one more: stress may affect your ability to produce sperm.
Actually, it’s a little more subtle than that. Men under high levels of short- and/or long-term stress produced less sperm than men not under the same kind of stress. But men whose stress levels were very high also had sperm that was more likely to be damaged.
While there’s no question that we should all reduce our stress levels, these findings—as interesting as they are—should be taken with a grain of salt (as long as your doctor says your sodium levels aren’t too high. The study was done at a fertility clinic which is a pretty stressful place to begin with. As Tina Jensen, Sperm Quality Researcher at Righospitalet, Copenhagen, put it, “Do you become stressed from becoming infertile or is stress causing infertility?” (Other research has found that men in fertility treatment feel more stress than those who are not.)