February 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Health Blog

WATCHING too much television can almost halve a man’s sperm count, according to a new study.

Researchers surveyed 189 American men aged 18–22 about the amount of time they spent watching television and how often they exercised during the three months prior to the survey.

The researchers measured participants’ sperm concentration, motility, morphology and total sperm count.

They found television watching was inversely associated with sperm concentration.

Men who watched more than 20 hours of television a week had a 44% lower sperm concentration than men who did not watch television. The men who spent more than 15 hours a week exercising had sperm concentrations 73% higher than those who exercised less than five hours a week – but exercise did not have an impact on sperm motility, shape or sample volume.

“The modifying effect of TV watching on the association between physical activity and sperm counts was unexpected as this has not been documented in previous literature,” the authors wrote.

The authors classified television watching as sedentary behaviour, which previous studies have linked with a lower sperm concentration.

However the literature also shows long-distance runners and cyclists had reduced semen quality.

The authors believe the highly active men in their study were more likely to play football, baseball, track sports, soccer or basketball, which are not linked to lower sperm quality.

“These associations with sperm counts suggest that lifestyle changes such as increases in physical activity may positively influence sperm count and concentration in reproductive-aged men,” the authors wrote.

A UK andrologist not connected with the study, Dr Allan Pacey from the University of Sheffield, urged caution in interpreting the paper.

“It remains to be seen if coaxing a TV-watching couch potato into doing some regular exercise could actually improve his sperm count or whether there exists an unknown fundamental difference between men who like exercise and those who do not which might account for the findings,” he said in a media release.

“Before all worried men hunt for their sports bag it’s important to note that other research suggests that doing too much exercise can be harmful to sperm production and this study did not examine the type and intensity of exercise their participants were undertaking.”

Reference: 5.2.13. Br J Sports Med 2013


Yours In Great Health,

Sar Rooney BHSc., ND., DC., DASc., GDSc. (Hons), MATMS, MNHAA, MHATO

Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner, Lecturer, Researcher


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