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Men Beware: Stockfish, others blamed for Low sperm Count

Men Beware: Stockfish, others blamed for Low sperm Count

| On 05, Jun 2014

AN insight into why more men are becoming infertile has emerged from recent studies. Regular intake of stockfish, environmental pollution, stress and untreated infections have been implicated .

The studies, however, suggest that sperm count and quality could be boosted by increasing the consumption of tomatoes, taking recommended multivitamins, and physical activity.

Stockfish is popular in West Africa, where it is used in the many soups that complement the grain staples fufu and garri. Also, stockfish is the main ingredient in the Igbo snack called Ugba na Okporoko or Ukazi amongst the Ohafia people in Abia State. The name Okporoko for stockfish, among the Igbo of Nigeria refers to the sound the hard fish makes in the pot and literally translates as “that which produces sound in the pot.”

A fertility expert, Joint Pioneer of Test Tube Baby/In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) in Nigeria and Medical Director of Medical Art Centre (MART), Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, told The Guardian: “A lot is happening to the sperm count. A lot has to do with environmental events. We have seen people who work in the Niger Delta region. The ozone layer in that place is bad and there is a lot of pollution. One of my students did a Ph.D and saw that those extracts of crude oil have severe effect on fertility of both male and female, they compromise them severely. No oil industry will encourage that level of pollution.

“Recently too we found out that people who work in that area if they carry out some tests they see they have some heavy metals and oil fossils in them and those things have the capacity to depress gametogenesis because gametes forming is dependent on some mitochondria activities that require oxygen, that require the best form of enzymes. Even herbicides and pesticides, smoking, diesel fuel they can block that enzyme activity that influences sperm count. It is an environmental problem; it is also a nutritional problem. I think 40 years ago some things we have in our environment now were not there.”

According to a study led by researchers of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Rutgers School of Public Health Psychological, United States, stress is harmful to sperm and semen quality, affecting its concentration, appearance, and ability to fertilize an egg.

The results were published online, last week, in the journal Fertility and Sterility. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, infertility affects men and women equally, and semen quality is a key indicator of male fertility.

Senior author Dr. Pam Factor-Litvak, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, United States, said: “Men who feel stressed are more likely to have lower concentrations of sperm, and the sperm they have is more likely to be misshapen or have impaired motility. These deficits could be associated with fertility problems.”

The researchers studied 193 men, ages 38 to 49, enrolled in the Study of the Environment and Reproduction at the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan in Oakland, California, between 2005 and 2008. The men completed tests to measure work and life stress on subjective scale (how they felt overall) and objective scale (life events behind the stress). They also provided semen samples. Technicians at the University of California, Davis, used standard methods employed in fertility testing to assess the samples for semen concentration, and sperm appearance and motility.

Measured subjectively or objectively, life stress degraded semen quality, even after accounting for men’s concerns about their fertility, their history of reproductive health problems, or their other health issues. Workplace stress was not a factor, however the researchers say it may still affect reproductive health since men with job strain had diminished levels of testosterone. Being without a job did not improve matters. Unemployed men had sperm of lower quality than employed men, regardless of how stressed they were.

It is not fully understood how stress affects semen quality. It may trigger the release of steroid hormones called glucocorticoids, which in turn could blunt levels of testosterone and sperm production. Another possibility is oxidative stress, which has been shown to affect semen quality and fertility.

While several previous studies have examined the link between stress and semen quality, the current paper is the first to look at subjective and objective measures of stress and find associations with semen concentration, and sperm appearance and motility.


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