Effects of work and life stress on semen quality

Fertil Steril. 2014 Aug;102(2):530-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2014.04.021. Epub 2014 May 23.


Objective: To evaluate associations between work-related stress, stressful life events, and perceived stress and semen quality.

Design: Cross-sectional analysis.

Setting: Northern California.

Patient(s): 193 men from the Child Health and Development Studies evaluated between 2005-2008.

Intervention(s): None.

Main outcome measure(s): Measures of stress including job strain, perceived stress, and stressful life events; outcome measures of sperm concentration, percentage of motile sperm, and percentage of morphologically normal sperm.

Result(s): We found an inverse association between perceived stress score and sperm concentration (estimated coefficient b=-0.09×10(3)/mL; 95% confidence interval [CI]=-0.18, -0.01), motility (b=-0.39; 95% CI=-0.79, 0.01), and morphology (b=-0.14; 95% CI, -0.25, -0.04) in covariate-adjusted linear regression analyses. Men who experienced two or more stressful life events in the past year compared with no stressful events had a lower percentage of motile sperm (b=-8.22; 95% CI, -14.31, -2.13) and a lower percentage of morphologically normal sperm (b=-1.66; 95% CI, -3.35, 0.03) but a similar sperm concentration. Job strain was not associated with semen parameters.

Conclusion(s): In this first study to examine all three domains of stress, perceived stress and stressful life events but not work-related stress were associated with semen quality.

Keywords: Semen quality; stress; work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • California
  • Cell Shape
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Status
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sperm Count
  • Sperm Motility
  • Spermatozoa / pathology*
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Work / psychology*