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Overweight, Obese Men Have Reduced Sperm Count, Quality, Study Says

October 20, 2003

The quality of a man's sperm begins to deteriorate as soon as he exceeds a healthy weight, according to a study presented last week at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's annual meeting in San Antonio, BBC News reports. Dr. William Roudebush and colleagues from Atlanta's Reproductive Biology Associates, a private in vitro fertilization clinic, studied the sperm of 500 men and found a direct link between their body mass index -- a measurement of weight compared with height -- and their sperm volume and quality. According to the researchers, obesity -- defined as a BMI over 30 -- lowers a man's sperm count below the level needed to fertilize an egg, BBC News reports. Researchers also found that even if the sperm of an obese man is able to fertilize an egg, there is a "far greater" chance of miscarriage because of poor sperm quality, according to BBC News (BBC News, 10/16). Roudebush said the link between weight and sperm count and quality was strongest among obese men. Dr. Larry Lipshultz, a specialist in male fertility at Baylor University College of Medicine in Houston, said that the extra body fat in men who are overweight or obese creates localized heat in the groin area that could damage sperm, the AP/Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (Badger, AP/Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 10/17).

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