Effect of psychological stress on fertility hormones and seminal quality in male partners of infertile couples

Andrologia. 2015 Apr;47(3):336-42. doi: 10.1111/and.12268. Epub 2014 Mar 26.


The present study evaluated the effect of psychological stress on male fertility hormones and seminal quality in male partner of infertile couples. Seventy male partners of infertile couples were evaluated for level of psychological stress using Hospital Anxiety and Depression Score (HADS) questionnaire, serum total testosterone, luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) by electrochemiluminescence assay and serum GnRH by ELISA. Seminal analysis was performed as per WHO guideline. Nineteen (27%) of them had HADS anxiety and depression score ≥8 (abnormal HADS score). The persons having abnormal HADS had lower serum total testosterone, higher serum FSH and LH than those of persons having normal HADS. Serum total testosterone correlated negatively with HADS, but LH and FSH correlated positively. There was no change in GnRH with the change in stress or testosterone levels. Sperm count, motility and morphologically normal spermatozoa were lower in persons having abnormal HADS. Sperm count correlated positively with total testosterone and negatively with FSH and LH. Abnormal sperm motility and morphology were related to lower testosterone and higher LH and FSH levels. Psychological stress primarily lowers serum total testosterone level with secondary rise in serum LH and FSH levels altering seminal quality. Stress management is warranted for male infertility cases.

Keywords: Fertility hormones; male infertility; psychological stress; sperm characteristics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / blood
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Depression / blood
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood*
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / blood*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / blood*
  • Infertility, Male / physiopathology
  • Infertility, Male / psychology
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood*
  • Male
  • Semen Analysis
  • Sperm Count
  • Sperm Motility / physiology
  • Stress, Psychological / blood*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Testosterone / blood*


  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Testosterone
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone