Overweight May Influence Men's Fertility

Overweight May Influence Men's Fertility

Obesity is defined as a BMI (body mass index) over 30 kg/m2. Patients with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 are considered overweight, but not obese.More than half of the U.S. population is overweight. But being obese is different from being overweight. An adult male is considered obese when his weight is 20% or more over the maximum desirable for their height.Anyone more than 100 pounds overweight is considered morbidly obese.


The body cannot store protein or carbohydrates , so excess protein or carbohydrate intake is converted to fat for storage. One pound of fat represents about 3,500 excess calories.

Obesity increases a person's risk of illness and death due to diabetes , stroke , coronary artery disease , hypertension, high cholesterol, and kidney and gallbladder disorders. Obesity may increase the risk for some types of cancer . It is also a risk factor for the development of osteoarthritis and sleep apnea.

A recent syudies shows that obese men are more likely to be infertile than their slimmer peers, according to the first study to look at whether a man's weight influences a couple's fertility.

Every excess 10 kilograms, or 20 pounds, may cut a man's fertility by 10 percent, Dr. Markku Sallmen of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki and colleagues at National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, write in the September issue of Epidemiology. Sallmen was a post-doc at NIEHS when he conducted the study.

The researchers looked at couples participating in the Agricultural Health Study who had attempted pregnancy over the past four years. The analysis was limited to couples for whom the wife was younger than 40.

The researchers compared the men's body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight in relation to height, to pregnancy success. A BMI of over 25 is considered overweight. Infertility was defined as failure to become pregnant after 12 months of unprotected intercourse.

Fertility was lower among men with BMIs of 26 or greater, and decreased as BMI rose, Sallmen and colleagues found.

For every three-point increase in BMI, the risk of infertility rose by 12 percent.

There are a number of mechanisms by which being overweight could affect fertility in males, Sallmen noted in an e-mail to Reuters Health. For example, excess weight may reduce sperm concentration/count, alter hormonal balance and increase scrotal temperature, or overweight men may simply have lower libidos and less sex than normal-weight men.

The study can't answer such questions of mechanism, Sallmen added, nor can it determine whether losing weight could restore fertility.

Sallmen and his team say their findings should be considered a first step in evaluating the relationship between overweight and obesity and male fertility.

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