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Men Working Heavy-Labor Jobs May Get Fertility Boost

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Men Working Heavy-Labor Jobs May Get Fertility Boost

FRIDAY, Feb. 24, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Men who’ve physically demanding jobs and repeatedly lift heavy objects at work even have higher sperm counts and testosterone levels.

A latest study that is an element of broader effort to explore how exposure to environmental chemicals and lifestyle selections affect reproductive health found the link.

“We already know that exercise is related to multiple health advantages in humans, including those observed on reproductive health, but few studies have checked out how occupational aspects can contribute to those advantages,” said study writer Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón. She is a reproductive epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and co-investigator of the broader Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) study.

“What these latest findings suggest is that physical activity during work can also be related to significant improvement in men’s reproductive potential,” she said in a hospital news release.

The EARTH study is a collaboration between the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Mass General Brigham health care system.

For the EARTH study, the researchers have collected samples and survey data from greater than 1,500 men and ladies.

The newest study, published recently within the journal Human Reproduction, focused on a subset of this overall group, including 377 male partners in couples searching for fertility treatment.

The investigators found that men who reported often lifting or moving heavy objects on the job had 46% higher sperm concentration. Their sperm counts were 44% higher than those of men with less physical jobs. These men also had higher levels of the male sex hormone testosterone and, surprisingly, of the feminine hormone estrogen.

“Contrary to what some people remember from biology class, ‘male’ and ‘female’ hormones are present in each sexes, but in several amounts,” Mínguez-Alarcón explained. “On this case, we hypothesize that excess testosterone is being converted into estrogen, which is a known way for the body to maintain normal levels of each hormones.”

About 40% of infertility cases may be traced to male aspects. These include sperm count, semen quality and sexual function. Sperm count and semen quality are considered the foremost drivers of growing infertility rates amongst men.

Earlier research from the EARTH group found that amongst men searching for fertility treatment, sperm count and quality declined by as much as 42% between 2000 and 2017.

“Further, there’s increasing evidence that male infertility is related to common chronic diseases akin to heart problems and autoimmune disease, highlighting the broader importance of male reproductive health,” Mínguez-Alarcón said.

More research is required to substantiate these findings for men from the final population, the study authors said. They hope that future studies will reveal the underlying reasons.

“Reproductive health is very important in its own right, but increasingly more evidence suggests that male infertility may give us insight into broader public health issues, including probably the most common chronic diseases,” Mínguez-Alarcón said. “Uncovering actionable steps people can take to enhance their fertility stands to learn all of us, not only couples attempting to conceive.”

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on infertility.

SOURCE: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, news release, Feb. 22, 2023

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