Multiple Meds May Undermine Male Fertility

Taking multiple medications, having hypertension, and executing heavy labor at work are all associated with a lower sperm count among men attempting to conceive.

Taking multiple medications, having hypertension, and executing heavy labor at work are all associated with a lower sperm count among men attempting to conceive.

For a new study published in Fertility and Sterility, researchers examined 456 men aged 31.8 years on average who had stopped using contraception. Roughly 470 of them provided 1 semen sample, and 80% provided a second sample.

The results showed that heavy work-related activity was associated with both lower semen concentration and total sperm count. In fact, 13% of the men who said they heavily exerted themselves at their job had oligospermia, or semen with low sperm counts, compared with 6% who reported no workplace exertion.

The good news for men trying to conceive is that shift work, night work, vibration, noise, heat, and prolonged sitting were not associated with semen quality. In addition, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and composite of total comorbidities were not tied to semen quality.

However, men with high blood pressure displayed lower percentages of normal-looking sperm compared with the normotensive men (17% vs 21%).

A third risk factor for low sperm count in the study was a greater number of medications. Fifteen percent of the men who took 2 or more medications had sperm counts below 39 million, which is considered below average. In contrast, only 7% of the men who did not take medications had sperm counts below 39 million.

“The good news is that these factors, if they are confirmed to have negative effects on male fertility, can potentially be modified by medical care or changing job-related behaviors,” said senior study author Germaine Buck Louis, PhD, director of the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in a press release.

The study authors concluded that more research is needed to determine whether treatment or cessation related to heavy exertion, hypertension, and the number of medications a man is taking could improve his fecundity.