Stress and Male Fertility

What effect does stress play in male fertility?

A lot! In my experience stress is the biggest factor for male fertility! There is a very complex and detailed biochemical explanation for why stress affects male fertility, but rather than boring you with the endocrine pathways of GNRH and glucocorticoids I will break it down into something more manageable for you to read…

The parasympathetic nervous system controls your digestive function, your heart rate, and your ability to get an erection. So your nervous system has a direct link to the male body’s ability to get it up.

When the body is under stress (physical, mental, or emotional) it produces more glucocorticoids (eg. cortisol the famous “stress hormone” which causes weight gain, fatigue, low libido etc.). These glucocorticoids surpress the body’s ability to release the hormones needed to produce testosterone (which we know from earlier is essential for sperm production). So not only do glucocorticoids lower the body’s ability to produce sperm, but they also strongly contribute to erectile dysfunction. For what it’s worth all of these nasal sprays marketed towards helping men getting erections is just another band aid treatment! What really we should be addressing are the lifestyle factors to help minimise stress, and therefore the affiliated stress hormones which cause the body to shut down and “under perform”.

If you are leading a lifestyle that is stressful, you are the only one who can do something about it. Start by addressing one thing to help improve your body’s stress response. Diet is often a great place to start! You can fill your body with wholesome nutrient dense foods, and then as your energy levels increase you can start exercising more regularly, and then your sleep cycles will deepen and you will feel better rested. Those vicious cycles are reversible too!

Sperm health

Lifestyle factors play a huge role in the health of the sperm.

So what can you do to minimise the effect stress plays on your body?

Follow a low sugar diet. This will minimise your bodies ability to elevate cortisol levels. Replace Mars Bars with boiled eggs and Brazil nuts.

Eliminate caffeine from the diet. Replace coffee with a super charged green juice, a glass of water, or a herbal tea like Licorice root. These alternatives will not only stabilise your energy and mood but prevent the body from going into “stress mode”.

Get up and go for regular walks during a work day. Do not sit at your desk for 3-4 hours at a time. Make sure you get up and walk around every hour. Or change your work environment to a standing work station. You will be surprised how productive you can be when you are standing up for one hour.

Exercise regularly. Look towards exercising 3-4 times per week. This can address weight goals as well as help to moderate stress. 30-40 minutes exercise every 2 days can make a huge difference to your body’s energy levels and directly reduce cortisol in the blood.

Drink plenty of water. Keep your body hydrated. There is nothing less sexy than a dehydrated man! Drink 2-3 litres of water daily for obvious reasons.

Sleep for 8 hours daily. Research has shown people who sleep for 8 hours per day have significantly lower cortisol levels. Your body needs rest every night for the regulations of hormones.

Herbal medicine is effective at helping regulate your body’s stress response. Speak to your naturopath or herbalist about herbs like; Rhodiola rosea, Withania somnifera, Tribulus terrestis, Turnera diffuse, Pinus pilaster, and Panax ginseng. These herbs are often used for stress and male fertility, as well as libido enhances, and also to improve erectile dysfunction.

Male fertility and stress


If you missed the first post on understanding male fertility see my blog post here