Causes of Infertility: Emotional Stress

Similar to women, emotional stress is one of the causes of infertility. Males internalize and deal with stress differently than women, but the affect of stress on either gender is often quite similar. Below is a description of how emotional stress can affect a man’s reproductive system.

Reduction in Sperm Quality and Quantity

Emotional stress can reduce or increase a body’s processing of food. A body that lacks proper nutrition cannot engage in its normal processes, which could possibly lead to a reduction in sperm quality. The sperm produced by a body lacking proper nutrients will not create good sperm. Similarly, the amount of sperm produced may be reduced. An overly stressed body may stop certain functions to deal with the stress it currently experiences. Possibly, this could mean that the body stops producing sperm together since it is a non-essential function.

Reduction in Sperm Motility

A body under extreme stress will divert nutrition, including water and other fluids, to other areas that need protection or to increase the production of fluids for other parts of the body experiencing the most stress. This transfer of energy and nutrient dispersal can lead to the body not providing sperm with the fluids necessary for its movement after ejaculation.

Difficulty with Erection and Ejaculation

Emotional stress has also been connected to an inability to achieve erection or ejaculate during intercourse. While erectile dysfunction medications may help the former situation, there is nothing that can be done for an inability to reach orgasm.

Sleep Deprivation

An individual experiencing emotional stress often has difficulty sleeping. Stress and anxiety produce excessive amounts of adrenaline to enable the body to better cope in the situation. Often, adrenaline prevents sleeping or inhibits good sleep, meaning that the body never truly relaxes. Sleep deprivation affects a body in numerous ways, one of which is a slowing of normal functions, including sperm production. 

Stress about Pregnancy

A couple worried about being able to become pregnant may, in fact, be prohibiting that very thing. Because a body reacts to stress by producing different hormones and chemicals, stressing about pregnancy can cause an inability to become pregnant. While it may be difficult for a couple not to stress about potential fertility issues, it is important for both parties to keep pregnancy in perspective and not create the vicious cycle of stress about becoming pregnant, not getting pregnant and then stressing about the fact that they are not yet pregnant.

Similarly, infertility treatments can cause stress on both parties. It is not uncommon for couples to need assistance to become pregnant. However, egg donation, IVF and other treatments create large levels of stress both in the fact that they are needed to be done and on the body during the procedures.

Men are not unaffected by emotional stress. Whether the source of stress is something other than becoming pregnant or the chances of becoming pregnant itself, emotional stress can affect sperm motility, quality and production.