Working The Night Shift Might Decrease Your Sperm Count
Once again, science can't stress enough how important sleep is, this time in regards to sexual health. New research presented at the American Urological Association in May looked specifically at sleep disruption from shift work, or employment that doesn't follow the 9-to-5 pattern. Shift work requires workers to follow irregular sleep patterns, especially when they take on the graveyard shift. According to WebMD, bad sleep patterns had a trickle-down effect to men's sperm count and other bodily functions.
One study found that men seeking help for infertility were more likely to have lower sperm counts if they were shift workers. "We think that too much or too little sleep alters circadian rhythms and thus changes hormone levels and the expression of genes that are important for producing sperm," noted Dr. Alex Pastuszak, who co-authored the studies. Sleep loss has long been proven to alter hormone levels and metabolic processes, which in turn messes with memory, blood sugar, the cardiovascular system, and the reproductive system. It's like fast-tracked aging. Interrupted circadian rhythms are also linked to infertility in women.
The other two studies gathered survey information from 2,500 men and found the shift workers were more likely to report "worse urinary issues, worse erectile function, and worse symptoms of low testosterone as well as lower testosterone levels," Pastuszak said. Shift work had a bigger impact on these issues than tobacco and alcohol use, exercise, or depression. The research has not yet been peer reviewed, and it did not conclusively prove that shift work resulted in urinary, sperm, and erectile dysfunction issues, so further research is necessary.
On the bright side, drinking up to four cups of coffee a day doesn't negatively impact sperm count or semen quality, so that's a small blessing for those with sleep-adverse work schedules.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.