Lifestyle affects men's reproductive health, say experts

Doctors say that Sperm DNA fragmentation analysis is now offered by many labs to assess the level of damaged sperms. This in turn can help the couple to take alternative reproductive methods (ART) for a successful pregnancy.
Representative image
Representative image

CHENNAI: The changes in lifestyle has impacted the reproductive health in men and led to increased infertility, say experts. A severe decline in the sperm quality has been observed mostly contributed by the lifestyle, including smoking, drinking, long driving hours, stress and pollution.

Doctors say that there is a high rise of delayed marriages and couples opting for only one or two children. Infertility is now a major concern for such couples. In about 50 percent of such cases, infertility is attributable to the male partner, mainly due to a failure in spermatogenesis.

In a study published in Oxford Academic, it was reported that there is a decline of 50–60 percent in sperm counts amongst men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

According to Upasana Mukherjee, Senior Genetic Counselor says, “The modern man, during his reproductive period, is exposed to the negative influence of widespread lifestyle-related habits such as smoking, alcohol, recreational drugs, less physical activity etc. Effect of cigarette smoking on male fertility may result from the combined roles of elevated oxidative stress, DNA damage, and cell apoptosis, which could explain not only the reduction in semen quality, but also impaired spermatogenesis, sperm maturation, and sperm function reported to be present in smokers compared to non-smokers."

Doctors say that Sperm DNA fragmentation analysis is now offered by many labs to assess the level of damaged sperms. This in turn can help the couple to take alternative reproductive methods (ART) for a successful pregnancy. Chronic alcohol consumption has also been found to have a detrimental effect on both semen quality and the levels of male reproductive hormones.

Several recreational drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, anabolic–androgenic steroids (AAS), opiates (narcotics), and methamphetamines are examples of illicit drugs that exert a negative impact on male fertility.

Dr Sheetal Sharda, Clinical Geneticist and Director- Genomics Development and Implementation, Neuberg Center for Genomic Medicine, said: “Unlike women, men are less aware about their reproductive health. When it comes to being evaluated for infertility or pregnancy loss, often the female is evaluated first. But pregnancy and a positive pregnancy outcome are dependent on both the partners. With better understanding and awareness, timely evaluation for a genetic diagnosis and making lifestyle modifications can improve the reproductive health of both the partners.”

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