New study suggests too little (or too much) sleep can harm a man’s fertility

New study suggests too little or too much sleep can harm a man’s fertility. Researchers hypothesize this has something to do with testosterone levels.

Do you feel like you get enough sleep?  Me neither.  Even as a teenager, when I slept so much that I was often compared to a sloth (miss those days!), I still never felt like I got enough.

We know that sleep is important for your overall health and energy, but a new report from the Boston University School of Public Health Pregnancy Study Online (PRESTO) suggests that sleeping too much or too little might also be important for men’s fertility.  The PRESTO study gathers data from couples trying to conceive naturally to identify relationships between health and lifestyle factors with successful pregnancies.  In this case they looked at 790 couples trying to conceive within a 12-month period and asked how much sleep they have gotten and if they had trouble sleeping. The researchers also controlled the couples’ ages (men had to be 21 or older while females were between the ages of 21 to 45), intercourse frequency, alcohol intake, and other factors that may affect fertility. The results? Men who slept less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours on average had a 42 percent lower probability of getting their partners pregnant any given month than men who sleep 7 to 8 hours each night. Yes, 8 really is now the magical number. Perhaps a good rule of thumb is to break your day into thirds: 8 hours for working, 8 hours for sleeping, and 8 hours for whatever else you like to do (including baby-making).

Lauren Wise, Professor of Epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health and the lead researcher for the PRESTO study, said the study may have found a link between sleep and fertility but it does not prove a cause and effect. There needs to be more research, especially on the measurement of sperm count (something the study did not analyze) and maybe even on a women’s sleeping patterns and their fertility.

“The cause is most likely hormonal”, Wise said. Testosterone is especially crucial for sperm production and the majority of daily testosterone release in men occurs during sleep. Total sleep time, in turn, has been “positively linked with testosterone levels in several studies,” she added.

Before this study there was little data on fertility and sleep. Now couples who are trying to get pregnant should think about their sleep cycles (and in particular how to improve it) as a way to boost their chances.


Lauren Wise, Sc.D., professor, epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health; Peter Schlegel, vice president, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and professor and chair,  urology, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York City; Oct. 18, 2016, presentation, American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting, Salt Lake City Place

Depression Medication and Male Fertility

Some mental health medication could be affecting your fertility and sperm production.

03722rSome mental health medication could be affecting your fertility and sperm production.

Taking medication for mental health isn’t something to be ashamed of. Actually, it is something you should feel content and indifferent about. Hell, why should you hate that little pill? From my own personal experience, in college when I was suffering from major depression I tried about four different anti-depressants medications. The side effects of the first three that I tried, let’s just say made me feel less human; I was no longer myself. The side effects were terrible, from sleeping more and eating less to snapping at anyone for just saying “hi” and having a seemingly nonexistent sex drive (sorry mom and dad). I had to keep switching from medication to medication until my doctor and I found the right one for me.

Here at DCYBs, a site about male fertility health, why the hell are we even bringing up depressing crap? Well, these mental health medicines can have the side effects that impact male fertility. But please keep in mind to not take this article as gospel. I’m not a doctor nor any sort of medical physician, I’m just a regular person surrounded with my own mental illness who took time to research this topic. If anything, I hope by reading this and doing your own research you too feel more empowered with your health. So, if you find anything here about medication you are taking and have a concern, then this should motivate you to go to your doctor and ask questions. Now that we have that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get down to business about your medication and fertility.

My inspiration for researching lithium came about as I was using the app and going through the test to check my own fertility. (FYI, I’m a female, but I’m new to DCYB and wanted to see what things I do that may affect my sperm if I was a male.) While answering questions to determine my own fertility health, one set of questions was about what medication I was currently taking and one that looked familiar to me was lithium. This was a medication that I believed I taken before, and the bottom of the app said these medications can affect your fertility. “Uh oh” I thought, that might not be good so I figured I need to do more research for myself.

First, what is lithium? Lithium is a chemical element, that was once found in the 7-Up until 1948. The name comes from the term lithos, the Greek word for “stone”, because lithium is present in many types of rocks. Bet you didn’t think you’d be learning about balls and rocks all at once, huh? Lithium is used as a treatment for bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive disorder, as well as major depression, and is prescribed by a doctor. Lithium is usually sold under brand names: Lithobid, Lithonate, Cibalith-S, etc.

So the question now is “Does lithium affect male fertility?” The answer is that it very well could. For example, there is a 1989 study in which scientists discovered that the lithium caused a complete cessation of flagellar movement. Basically saying lithium stopped the movement of the sperm’s tail, or the flagellar movement, because lithium has a natural immobilization effect. The reasoning for the stoppage of the cells is the concentration of lithium present in semen is double that than in the blood. The causation of this may be because the blood filters out more than semen does, therefore lithium may be filtered out in the blood more than semen, but of course that is simply logical deduction on my part.

But you may be skeptical and think that study was too long ago and the data might not be as reliable in today’s age. No worries, I got you covered. In a 2013 study, scientists took adult male rats and divided them into three experimental groups and one control group. Each group were given different doses of lithium:10, 20 and 30 mg/kg a day. The final results were that the experimental groups’ sperm cells were reduced by motility/movement, morphology (cell appearance), and total sperm count.

But even with these studies, if you were to Google (or Bing; live your life the way you want) “Does lithium affect male fertility?”, you will find message boards, websites, etc. with different outcomes. Some say yes, others say no, it is a little controversial, but studies suggest that lithium may have an effect on sperm. Of course, everyone’s body reacts differently, and as I said above talk to your doctor if you are concerned about medication you are taking. Remember it is your body, it is your mind. You have the right to be happy, even if your happiness is based on your balls.

Until next time friends.


Raoof, N T, R M Pearson, and P Turner. “Lithium Inhibits Human Sperm Motility in Vitro.” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 28.6 (1989): 715–717. Print.

Toghyani, Shima et al. “Lithium Carbonate Inducing Disorders in Three Parameters of Rat Sperm.” Advanced Biomedical Research 2 (2013): 55. PMC. Web. 8 Nov. 2016.