ReproSource Responds to Controversial New Findings About Sperm Count, Male Fertility

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New research points to a correlative relationship between a man’s weight and his sperm count, suggesting that lifestyle changes can actually boost male fertility—but researchers from ReproSource say the scenario is a bit more complex.

While female fertility complications are generally well documented, issues of male fertility tend to receive less media coverage. A recent Reuters report, however, illuminates an issue that many men might find to be revealing—namely, a supposed connection between lifestyle and fertility. The article points to new evidence that suggests heavier men may have a lower sperm count, or may even have no sperm production at all. But according to researchers at ReproSource, the truth about male fertility is considerably more complex than this study might first suggest.

“Male fertility research is a challenging area in which to establish cause and effect,” comments Benjamin Leader, MD, PhD, director of clinical research at ReproSource. “In fact, fertility is one of the most difficult diagnostic issues clinicians encounter, if not the most difficult. Unlike cardiology or oncology, where in general one cell type is being examined using imaging or biomarkers in the blood or tissue, problems with fertility can arise from almost any organ system in the female body. And then there is an entirely different individual involved: the man.”

Leader agrees that it is very difficult to clinically establish a link between sperm count and pregnancy, until of course there is no sperm, something that is highlighted in the Reuters report itself. The article notes that, despite the finding that weight and other lifestyle factors can contribute to low sperm count, it “can't prove that overweight or obese men will have more trouble fathering a child.”

According to the ReproSource researcher, this finding is typical. “Studies of male fertility are challenging because it only takes one sperm, from the millions which a man normally provides during intercourse, to make a baby,” Leader observes. “Studies which show effect on semen parameters are often difficult to correlate to clinical pregnancy rates.”

Meanwhile, the Reuters report itself notes that the study comes with myriad complications, including the fact that obesity itself may not really be the issue; overweight men tend to have a variety of other health issues, any one of which could be the true cause of the low sperm counts.

Leader and his associates at ReproSource conduct research meant to provide clinicians and patients with the best possible options for fertility testing and treatment. Leader says that educating the public to appreciate the complexity of fertility—and infertility—is the first step toward arriving at sensible ways to incorporate information about new fertility studies.


ReproSource is a clinical laboratory and research organization that exists to provide clinicians and patients alike with the best solutions for fertility testing and education. The organization was founded in 2008 by internationally renowned experts in the areas of diagnostic research, clinical laboratory medicine, and the practice of fertility medicine.

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Michael McGarety
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