Does Obesity Affect Fertility in Men?

Male obesity affecting fertility

Being Overweight or Obese May Be Harmful To a Man’s Reproductive Health

We all have our list of reasons why we want to lose weight, but fertility may not cross our minds as one of them. Unfortunately, when it comes to fertility issues, we may think about what a woman needs to address. However when it comes to your body weight and fertility, it can equally affect both a man and/or woman’s reproductive health.

In fact, just like women, obesity and being overweight can have a negative effect on a man’s fertility.  When you are a male of an unhealthy weight, serious diseases, that are common with obesity, can affect sperm quality.

4 Ways Obesity May Harm Male Fertility

#1 Sperm Quality, Motility, and Count is compromised

Studies have shown that even being 20 pounds over your ideal weight makes you 10% more likely to suffer from male infertility. The higher a man’s BMI (body max index) is, the more likely he is to have a low sperm count as well as decreased sperm quality.

When it comes to sperm count, a study by Jorge Chavarro, assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), found that overweight and obese men are more likely than their normal-weight peers to produce lower numbers of sperm, or even no sperm at all. Obese men are 42 percent more likely to have a low sperm count and 81 percent more likely to produce no sperm than their normal-weight peers.

Studies show that not having an optimal environment (temperature of 34–35°C) can also cause harm. Fat tissue can cause elevated heat in the scrotum, which may lead to low sperm motility, sperm oxidative stress, and even sperm DNA damage. Some men resort to having surgery in order to search for sperm in the testicles. Lower sperm quality can unfortunately lead to a  miscarriage or an abnormal embryo.

#2 Sexuality can be Stunted

A higher BMI can be linked to lack of sexual drive or activity. Sexual health and male infertility specialist at NYU Medical Center in New York states that cholesterol and insulin resistance can lead to erectile dysfunction due to the formation of vessel-clogging fatty deposits causing the penis to shut down.

#3 Hormone Imbalances arise

Abdominal fat metabolically converts testosterone into estrogen. So when a man has excess weight in the form of visceral fat, it may interfere with testosterone production. When estrogen levels are higher, the body slows down the production of testosterone. This starts a cycle, because this in turn leads to an increase in body fat and losing muscle mass.

If your testosterone levels are too low and your estrogen levels are too high, it may affect your ability to get an erection or stay erect. Studies show that weight loss can really impact testosterone levels. In a study with overweight, middle-aged men with pre-diabetes, weight loss caused 50% of the men to get out of the low testosterone zone.

#4 Increases the Probability of Prostate Cancer

Avoiding prostate cancer can help you steer clear from what can be a permanent infertility issue. 404,576 men demonstrated the link between extra body fat and a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer in an American Cancer Society study. An overweight man is 8% more likely to get prostate cancer. Moreover, a man that’s obese has a 34% risk. If a radical prostatectomy operation is needed, obesity can increase a man’s chance of developing urinary incontinence.  If the prostate is removed, a man no longer has the ability to make semen or ejaculate because the prostate is what produces the fluid that helps keep semen liquid.

Has your weight affected your fertility?

Fertility Institute of San Diego, a boutique San Diego fertility center, is a firm believer that total wellness is an essential component to maximize your success rates. Whether you want to get a semen analysis or get support about fertility nutrition, Dr. Hosseinzadeh and her dedicated team of fertility specialists are here to help you on your fertility journey. Southern California residents can take advantage and book a free consultation with Dr. Hosseinzadeh, to go over the effects of obesity on fertility or any other fertility related questions, by clicking here.

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