Obese males are less likely to father a child

July 9th, 2008 - 5:24 pm ICT by IANS  


London, July 9 (IANS) Obese males are less likely to father children if they don’t cut down on their weight, warned medical experts on the basis of a wide ranging study. Aberdeen University (AU) researchers have shown how fatter men with higher body mass index (BMI) had lower quantity of semen and a higher proportion of abnormal sperm.

Ghiyath Shayeb and colleagues of AU examined seminal fluid analysis of 5,316 men attending Aberdeen Fertility Centre with their partners for difficulties in conceiving.

More than 2,035 of them had complete data on their BMIs. “We felt that it was possible that male overweight might contribute to fertility problems,” he said, “particularly since it is a known risk factor for problems in conceiving among women.”

The scientists divided the men into four groups according to their BMI, from being underweight to being considerably overweight.

Taking into account characteristics that could confound the analysis like smoking, alcohol intake, age, social deprivation and periodic abstinence from sex, prior to producing semen samples, they looked for a relationship between BMI and semen quality.

The analysis showed that the men in Group B, who had an optimal BMI (20-25, as classified by WHO), had higher levels of normal sperm than those in the other groups. They also had higher semen volume. There was no significant difference between the four BMI groups in sperm concentration or motility.

The researchers did not look at DNA damage in the sperm, preferring to look at the parameters of the routine semen analysis, which all men attending the fertility centre will have at least once.

“Other studies have suggested an association between male obesity and increased DNA damage in the sperm, which can be associated with reduced fertility as well,” said Shayeb.

“Our findings were quite independent of any other factors,” he said, “and seem to suggest that men who are trying for a baby with their partners, should first try to achieve an ideal body weight. This is in addition to the benefit of a healthy BMI for their general well being.

“Adopting a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet and regular exercise will, in the vast majority of cases, lead to a normal BMI. We are pleased to be able to add improved semen quality to the long list of benefits that we know are the result of an optimal body weight.”

The team intends to follow up their research by comparing male BMI in fertile and infertile couples to see if the poorer semen quality correlates with reduced fertility.

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