Pregnancy / Childbirth

Can overweight in a man affect fertility?

Can overweight in a man affect fertility?

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Overweight and obesity are thought to be an epidemic of the 21st century. In our country, about 62% of men and about 46% of women are struggling with excess kilograms (data from the CSO study from 2016). The increase in the number of obese patients is particularly noticeable among cardiological, diabetic or neurological patients. Few people are aware, however, that overweight and obesity can also affect fertility. So let's look together today what medicine has to say about the relationship between excess weight in men and problems with their childbirth.

What is overweight and obesity?

Overweight and obesity is excessive body weight that exceeds the so-called optimal weight. The easiest way to present this is by using the BMI indicator calculated from the formula: BMI = body weight in kilograms / height in meters raised to the second power.


Optimal weight - is in the BMI range between 18.5 and 25 kg / m2.
Overweight - is in the BMI 25-29.9 kg / m2 range.
Obesity - we find it when the BMI exceeds 30 kg / m2.

Overweight and obesity in men, and a direct impact on their reproductive potential

Overweight and obesity directly affect male reproductive potential. It was noticed, inter alia, that excessive amount of fat translates into an increase in inflammatory markers concentration in seminal fluid. This in turn can affect worse semen quality defined as a decrease in the morphologically normal sperm concentration and a decrease in their motility. This was confirmed in a study published in Frontiers in Physiology.

Excessive body fat can also directly affect male fertility through impact on their hormonal balance. It has been proven that fat cells, through high aromatase activity, are involved in the conversion of testosterone into estrogens. The effect of this state of affairs is often a significant decrease in the concentration of male sex hormones and an increase in their female counterparts. This can result in gynecomastia (male breast development), chronic fatigue syndrome, poor sperm quality, erection problems, and a significant decrease in libido.

Overweight and obesity in men, and an indirect impact on their reproductive potential

Overweight and obesity strongly affect the functioning of the whole body. In many cases, this can also translate into lower male reproductive potential. Thus, excess kilos indirectly affect fertility through:

  • Increased risk of atherosclerosis - one of the first observed symptoms of atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries may be erection problems. For more advanced vascular lesions, erection problems can combine with intermittent claudication and give a picture of Lerich syndrome (atherosclerosis of the iliac and abdominal aorta).
  • Increased cardiovascular risk - diseases such as heart failure or ischemic disease significantly deteriorate physical performance, general comfort of life, and thus in many cases also libido. What's more, many drugs used in these diseases have an adverse effect on male sexual performance. Examples include beta blockers commonly used in cardiology (potency problems) or diuretics (lowering testosterone).
  • Depression and problems with self-acceptance - many men struggling with excess kilos also struggle with depression and lack of a sense of attractiveness and acceptance of their own body. This in turn translates into stress-induced potency disorders, hormonal disorders and decreased libido. Antidepressants are also important, which in many cases also have an adverse effect on sexual function. An example is the commonly used fluoxetine or sertraline.

In summary, overweight and obesity adversely affect many aspects of male sexuality and can significantly impede the fathering of your offspring.

Bibliography:Obesity and sexual behavior - Monika Seifert, Zygmunt ZdrojewiczOverweight and obesity in Poland - Wojciech Stefan ZgliczyńskiObesity or Overweight, a Chronic Inflammatory Status in Male Reproductive System, Leads to Mice and Human Subfertility - Weimin Fan, Yali Xu, Yue Liu, Zhengqing Zhang, Liming Lu, Zhide Ding