Effect of emotional stress on sperm quality

Indian J Med Res. 2008 Sep;128(3):254-61.


Background & objective: Emotional stress plays a detrimental role on fertility. In this study male patients with idiopathic infertility were selected after evaluation of psychological stress to evaluate a positive effect of a stress therapy on their semen quality.

Methods: A total of 20 patients with infertility were enrolled in the study and randomly divided in two groups. Ejaculates were examined by light and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Meiotic segregation was also investigated by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Ten patients were treated with Conveyer of Modulating Radiance (CRM) therapy and sperm characteristics and meiotic segregation were evaluated again three months at the end of treatment.

Results: TEM data showed that, among sperm pathologies, necrosis and apoptosis were higher and the number of "healthy" sperm was significantly reduced in both groups of stressed men compared to reference values. The number of "healthy" sperm was significantly higher in the treated group after therapy, indicating a recovery of sperm quality, although no significant decrease in sperm pathologies was observed. FISH analysis showed that the mean frequencies of sex chromosomes disomies and diploidies significantly decreased after stress therapy.

Interpretation & conclusion: The effects induced by stress also seem to include meiotic and structural alterations in sperm cells. The spermatogenic process was improved after a cycle of CRM therapy indicating that stress is an additional risk factor for idiopathic infertility.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / epidemiology*
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Nucleus / pathology
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Infertility, Male* / epidemiology
  • Infertility, Male* / pathology
  • Infertility, Male* / psychology
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Necrosis
  • Psychological Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Sperm Motility
  • Spermatozoa / pathology*
  • Spermatozoa / ultrastructure
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*