Background: Stress is one of the most important health and social problems. Psychological stress has long been suspected of having an important impact on infertility. Studies on the effects of psychological stress on male fertility, especially the semen quality, have so far yielded equivocal findings.
Materials and methods: The study population consisted of 179 men who had reported to the infertility clinic for diagnostic purposes, some of them with normal fertility (semen total concentration of 15-300 mln/ml) or with slight oligozoospermia (semen total concentration of 10-15 mln/ml). The semen samples were analyzed in one laboratory according to the WHO manual on basic semen analysis. The main semen parameters were assessed: volume, motility, percent of atypical and progressive spermatozoa. To assess the occupational stress the Subjective Work Characteristics Questionnaire was used. Assessing the level of stress we concentrated on the sum of points obtained by each man taking part in the study and the number of psychosocial factors present at work reported by the subjects.
Results: Measuring the level of stress by the Subjective Work Characteristics Questionnaire, we revealed negative effects of a number of stressful situations at work, which affect semen volume and percent of progressive spermatozoa, taking account of confounding factors that can have impact on the semen quality and thus affect fertility, such as duration of the couple's infertility, past sexual abstinence and diseases.
Conclusion: The study confirm that the occupational stress can affect the male semen quality, however, due to the limited data on this issue, the obtained results must be confirmed by more extensive, longitudinal studies.