Obesity is a serious issue in the United States, with record numbers of Americans tipping the scales into an overweight or obese BMI. In fact, obesity is currently at an all-time high, with a whopping 36.5% of the adult population qualifying as obese.
From the easy access to fast food to the growing size of portions, it’s easier than ever before to gain weight – and keep it on for good.
Most men are aware of the common issues that arise from obesity, including an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Those who are obese often live a shorter life by as many as eight years on average and may experience premature complications with joint pain, range of movement, and stamina.
As the proportion of obese Americans continues to increase, new consequences come to light. Among these harrowing conclusions? Obesity’s effects on male fertility.
Male Fertility Explained
Unlike women, who develop a finite amount of eggs and release one each month, men are fertile virtually all of the time. Sperm is produced at a rate of around 60,000 per minute, and each ejaculation results in the release of between 40 million and 1.2 billion sperm.
In a normal lifespan, men will produce roughly 525 billion sperm cells in total. While women experience menopause in their 40s or 50s, men remain fertile throughout the majority of life.
However, male fertility is somewhat of a sliding scale and everything from diet to hobbies can affect sperm production and concentration. Common causes of infertility include:
- Medical issues, like varicocele, infection, ejaculation issues, tumors, hormone imbalances, celiac disease, and chromosomal defects
- Medications, like long-term anabolic steroid use or chemotherapy
- Contact with industrial chemicals like herbicides, pesticides, and painting materials
- Heavy metal exposure
- Overheating of the testicles, like frequent use of saunas or hot tubs
- Illicit drug use, alcohol use, and tobacco use
- Stress or anxiety
Obesity and Male Fertility
Obesity is a major contributing factor in a man’s sperm production and fertility. Just as obesity can interfere with other organ functions throughout the body, it can also impact the normal development of sperm.
As obesity rates grow worldwide, so do infertility rates. Infertility is currently at a record high, and researchers believe these two factors are strongly related. One study found that men who are obese have a sperm count that is 24% lower and a 22% lower concentration of sperm as compared to men of a healthy weight.
Hormones are thought to play a significant role in the impact of weight on infertility. As weight increases, testosterone levels decrease, leading to a reduction in the hormones that trigger sperm production.
If you’re having trouble conceiving or have received poor results from a sperm analysis, all hope is not lost. While some forms of infertility are permanent, many are not. A few lifestyle changes can be very influential, helping you to see a boost in your sperm production.
Here are a few steps you can take to help maintain or increase your fertility:
- Lose weight, aiming for a BMI of between 18 and 25
- Exercise regularly
- Discuss medication choices with your doctor and, if possible, switch off of any prescriptions that can lead to infertility
- Reduce sauna or hot tub usage
- Eat a balanced diet and cut out potentially dangerous substances, like tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs
- Take vitamins and supplements, like D-aspartic acid, Vitamin C, or semen increasers.
- Reduce stress as much as possible
- Get a full seven to eight hours of sleep each night
See Also: The Top 8 Supplements for Male Fertility
As in all areas of life, overall health matters. Men who maintain a normal BMI are far less likely to suffer from infertility, making it much easier to start a family. If you are struggling with fertility, losing a pound or two – or ten – can make a significant difference.