When choosing the right career path for you, chances are fertility wasn’t something that crossed your mind. But hazards in the workplace and excessive stress can negatively affect male fertility – meaning that your profession may be impacting your chances to conceive. Read on to learn about the jobs that impact sperm health, as well as those that improve it.
Men who work jobs that expose them to high levels of heat or radiation are more likely to have lower sperm counts and issues with sperm motility. This includes welders, bakers, painters, construction workers, drivers, athletes and personal trainers. Reproductive organs must be kept cooler than normal body temperature for sperm to be produced normally. When the temperature in the scrotum area increases, such as by sitting down for long periods of time, or by spending a lot of time in a hot environment, the sperm that is produced is of lesser quality.
Exposure to toxic chemicals
Temperature isn’t the only issue. Men who work with pesticides or lead are more likely to experience reduced sperm count and quality, as well as other reproductive problems. A 2020 review published in Reproductive Medicine and Biology shows that endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including BPA, phthalates, pesticides and other environmental chemicals may affect sperm production, embryo development, and also have an association with testicular cancer.
Working in an office doesn’t necessarily mean your sperm is in tip top shape, either. This is particularly true if you’re spending a lot of time in a sitting position or if your job is very stressful. A study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that while workplace stress did not directly affect semen quality, it did lower the testosterone levels in their semen, which could affect reproductive health. Interestingly, they also found that men who were unemployed had lower semen quality than those who were employed, regardless of how stressed they were.
Physically demanding work
On the other end of the spectrum, a 2023 study published in Human Reproduction suggests that men who regularly lift heavy objects at work have higher sperm concentration and higher sperm counts. This means physical activity at work may significantly improve your reproductive potential.
Managing the side-effects
We know it’s difficult to manage work-related fertility factors: it’s not that easy to take weeks off work to allow for improvements. Luckily, some factors can be addressed through some basic changes, such as wearing loose clothing if the issue is heat-related. If you’re exposed to chemicals at work, take all the necessary precautions, including avoiding skin contact, wearing protective clothing, and changing out of your clothes before you arrive home. In terms of stress at work, consider cutting back on your workload and identifying ways to help you cope, such as exercising, and meeting up with others.
As you make these changes towards optimal sperm health, you can check your motile sperm concentration with an at home Yo Sperm Test. The test provides you with a detailed report which you can share with your doctor who can then help you identify the next steps.