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Nat Rev Urol. 2010 Mar;7(3):153-61. doi: 10.1038/nrurol.2010.6. Epub 2010 Feb 16.

The effect of obesity on sperm disorders and male infertility.

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Division of Medical Physiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, P. O. Box 19063, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa.


The results of several studies point to an increased likelihood of abnormal semen parameters among overweight men, and an elevated risk for subfertility among couples in which the male partner is obese. Obesity is, therefore, associated with a higher incidence of male factor infertility. Several mechanisms might account for the effect of obesity on male infertility, both directly and indirectly, by inducing sleep apnea, alterations in hormonal profiles (reduced inhibin B and androgen levels accompanied by elevated estrogen levels) and increased scrotal temperatures, ultimately manifesting as impaired semen parameters (decreased total sperm count, concentration and motility; increased DNA fragmentation index). Neither the reversibility of obesity-associated male infertility with weight loss nor effective therapeutic interventions have been studied in-depth. The increasing prevalence of obesity calls for greater clinical awareness of its effects on fertility, better understanding of underlying mechanisms, and exploration into avenues of treatment.

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