Too much time watching TV may decrease sperm count
5th February 2013
Men who are more active and engage in more exercise will benefit from a higher sperm count in comparison to their peers who lead a more sedentary lifestyle and spend several hours in front of the television. These are the suggestions emanating from a U.S. study recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health surveyed 222 healthy males who were aged between 18 and 22 in 2009-2010, as part of the Rochester Young Men's Study. All were students at a university in New York. The participants were required to submit a sperm sample and asked to make note of roughly how many hours each week they had dedicated to exercise over the preceding three months, in addition to how much time had been spent watching television, DVDs, or videos over the same period. The men were also asked about any medical or reproductive health problems they were aware of, as well as their diet, smoking habits and level of stress. Researchers contrasted sperm test results against answers provided in the surveys and they discovered an apparent connection between an inactive lifestyle and low sperm count. It was found that the more active men, who engaged in ‘moderate to vigorous’ exercise of 15 or more hours each week, actually had a 73% higher sperm count compared to those who had only exercised less than five hours per week. The majority of the moderate to vigorous exercises included football, baseball and basketball. For the less active men in the survey who had spent at least 20 hours each week indoors watching TV or DVDs , overall their sperm count was found to be reduced by 44% compared to those who rarely spent time in front of the TV. However, it was also determined that nobody in the survey had such low sperm levels that they would be classified as ‘sub-fertile’. It was established that sperm motility (how effectively the sperm swims), shape, and sample volume were not impacted regardless of somebody leading an active lifestyle or not. On the whole, it would appear that semen quality has been declining over the last few decades following the results from many studies conducted around the world. Nobody knows for sure the reasons why but some scientists believe that a more sedentary lifestyle could lead to a warming of the scrotum and be detrimental to semen concentrations. Study leader Dr Audrey Gaskins, said: “We know very little about how lifestyle may impact semen quality and male fertility in general so identifying two potentially modifiable factors that appear to have such a big impact on sperm counts is truly exciting.” Past studies that have focused on sperm quality and exercise have centred more on athletes such as cyclists and marathon runners. Study co-author Jorge Charravo, assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, added to Dr Gaskins’ comments and said: “The majority of the previous studies on physical activity and semen quality had focused on professional marathon runners and cyclists, who reach physical activity levels that most people in the world cannot match. We were able to examine a range of physical activity that is more relevant to men in the general population.” However, before men start over-doing it at the gym, Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, gave his thoughts on the findings and commented: “It remains to be seen if coaxing a TV-watching couch potato into doing some regular exercise could actually improve his sperm count. Or whether there exists an unknown fundamental difference between men who like exercise and those who do not which might account for the findings. This should be a relatively easy study to perform, but before all worried men hunt for their sports bag it's important to note that other research suggests that doing too much exercise can be harmful to sperm production. My advice would be everything in moderation - and that includes time in the gym as well as watching TV.” For men wondering how they can increase their sperm count, Medical Specialists Pharmacy can advise on numerous tips, such as: . Cut down on alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption can reduce testosterone levels by up to about 20%. . Stop smoking. Cigarettes are massive culprits for decreasing both sperm count and sperm-cell motility. . Wear less restrictive underwear such as boxer shorts over Y-fronts - tighter underwear can overheat the scrotum and affect sperm production. . Adopt a healthy diet, making sure to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants. . Eat more nuts. In particularly, walnuts have been linked to a boost in sperm health.