Impact of psychological stress measured in three different scales on testis function: A cross-sectional study of 1362 young men

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Background: Studies have reported associations between psychological stress and semen quality, but most have been performed on selected populations using different stress measures. Thus, it is uncertain which stress scale best quantifies the effects of stress on testicular function. Objective: To study the association between three different measures of stress and testicular function in young men. Material and Methods: In total, 1362 men (median age 19 years) delivered semen and blood samples. They also answered a questionnaire including information from three stress scales: Stress Symptoms, Stressful Life Events and Perceived Stress. Various statistical analyses for associations between stress and testicular function (semen quality and reproductive hormones) were performed. Results: Perceived Stress was negatively associated with sperm concentration, total count and motility and positively associated with serum FSH. Men with the highest scores (>30 points) had 38% (95% CI 3-84%) lower sperm concentration, 42% (95% CI 5-91%) lower total count and 22% (95% CI 2-32%) lower proportion of motile spermatozoa than men with the lowest scores (0-10 points). For the stress symptoms score, men with highest scores (>95th percentile vs. lower) had lower sperm concentration, total sperm count, motility and serum Inhibin-B/FSH-ratio. Although men with highest stress levels were characterized by an unhealthier lifestyle, adjusting for lifestyle factors did not attenuate results suggesting that the associations between stress and testicular function were not mediated by lifestyle. Stressful Life Events were not associated with testicular function. Discussion and Conclusion: The linear association between Perceived Stress and semen parameters and lack of dose-response association for the other two stress scales indicated that perceived stress was the most sensitive marker of stress affecting semen quality in young men. The lack of associations between Stressful Life Events and testis function confirmed that the perception of stressful events rather than the stressful event per se matters.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020

    Research areas

  • perceived stress, reproductive hormones, semen quality, stress symptoms, stressful life events

ID: 245489376