REUS, Spain – Infertility is a common problem with many causes. Experts say between 10 and 15 percent of all couples have trouble conceiving a child. While fertility issues can stem from genetic or environmental factors, a study suggests body weight plays a major role in sperm quality. Specifically, researchers find that males who are overweight or obese will have more trouble having children.
In a collaborative effort by researchers from Argentina, Iran, the United States, and Spain, the new report systematically reviews all the current findings linking body weight and sperm quality. This extensive study in Obesity Reviews includes the work of 88 previous articles.
Extra weight can seriously damage sperm
The international team finds that males in the overweight and/or obesity categories struggle with several semen quality parameters. These include volume, sperm count, sperm concentration, vitality, total motility, and normal morphology (the structure of the sperm). Additionally, the review finds men who are underweight have sperm with abnormal structures as well.
Men who are overweight or obese also appear to have higher estradiol concentrations. This is the predominant form of the hormone estrogen. Although estrogen is typically viewed as a female hormone, men’s bodies have lower levels of estradiol.
Researchers say estradiol is important for normal male reproductive function however, high estradiol levels may contribute to infertility too. Too much of the hormone may also cause the development of breast tissue, delayed puberty, stunted growth, and erectile dysfunction.
First author Albert Salas-Huetos explains in a university statement that these results “suggest that overweight/obesity prevention should be considered at an early age to avoid deleterious effects on reproductive health.”
The researcher adds more research is necessary to determine any possible benefits of weight loss for fertility in overweight males.