A new study from researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center in Israel says eight weeks of stress may damage a man’s sperm.
The Israeli scientists said there is a 47 percent chance that sperm cells have weak motility if they are under intense pressure.
Weak motility makes it less likely for sperm to successfully fertilise an egg. Lifestyle, for example, smoking and environmental factors have been known to affect sperm motility.
Researchers compared 10,535 sperm samples from men in unstressful conditions between 2009 and 2017 with 659 samples from men who were exposed to two months of military action between Israel and Gaza.
The average age of the men was 32 and 44% of them were smokers.
Although the results are related to men living in conflict zones, researchers argue that they could apply to any mental stress.
“This study shows that prolonged stress can have an effect on sperm quality,” Eliahu Levitas, the study author, said.
“Mental stress is known to have an adverse effect on fertility, but there is little research on the impact of stress on sperm quality.
“Our reasoning was that even men who heard incoming rocket warning sirens during a conflict experienced stress throughout the day over a longer period. We were surprised to discover that there is a connection between the security situation and the sperm counts.”