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16 June 2008
Overweight Men Get Sperm Thumbs-Up
by George Atkinson

Unlike women who are carrying a few extra pounds, overweight men are not more likely to be infertile or sub-fertile, according to a new study presented at The Endocrine Society's 90th Annual Meeting.

The results from the study, carried out in New York, were unexpected, said researcher Nanette Santoro, an Albert Einstein College of Medicine obstetrician-gynecologist who is trained in reproductive endocrinology. "We see pretty significant deficits in fertility in women due to obesity, so we thought we'd see an effect in men," Santoro said. "But that wasn't the case."

Specifically, the study found that greater body weight was not associated with worse sperm production or sperm motility. Impaired sperm production is the cause of infertility in 90 percent of infertile men, according to Santoro.

But before you throw your diet out the window, consider that increasing body weight was linked to lower testosterone in the tudy participants for whom testosterone was tested. However, Santoro said low testosterone causes infertility only if it is very low or occurs in morbidly obese men.

"It's good news for men that body size may be less related to fertility than it is in women," Santoro said. "Our results show that the process of making sperm is pretty robust and is hard to interrupt."

Interestingly, the study also found that common antidepressants may interfere with sperm health. Santoro observed a trend toward reduced sperm motility in the men who were taking an antidepressant in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class. This class of drugs includes Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil and Zoloft. "We know that SSRIs affect sex drive, but there aren't much data on their effect on fertility," she said. Santoro hopes to investigate this effect further in the future.

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Source: The Endocrine Society

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