By Sola Ogundipe
A few years ago, it was learned that too much TV might kill sooner. Now, a new study by the Harvard School of Public Health study has said excessive TV-watching could deplete sperm count.
The investigation of the relationship between TV viewing, physical activity and semen quality reveals that men glued to the tube more than 20 hours per week had 44 percent less sperm than those who watched no TV.
Meanwhile, men who log in 15 or more hours of weekly exercise seemed to boost their sperm production to nearly 75 percent higher than those who exercised less than five hours.
More studies show that the quality of sperm, measured in concentration of sperm and sperm count, is declining in Western countries, with drops of up to 38-44 percent in concentration.
Numerous factors from lower levels of physical activity to exposure to environmental chemicals explain the trend.
The scientists analyzed the semen quality of 189 relatively healthy New York men aged 18 to 22, who were asked about how often and how intensely they exercised, as well as the amount of time they spent watching TV, videos or DVDs. The men were all normal weight and height, and the majority did not smoke.
Reporting in the British Journal of Sports Medicine the researchers found that on average, the men spent from five to 14 hours exercising and four to 20 hours a week in front of the TV.
Men who spent 20 or more hours a week in front of the TV had a sperm count that was on average 44 percent lower than that of men who spent less time watching TV. And those who were the most physically active also enjoyed a 73 percent higher sperm count than those who were more sedentary.
Being more active and watching less TV were associated with a higher sperm count and sperm concentration for the young men overall.
The connection between TV viewing and sperm count could be a marker for other factors that distinguish those who spend more time in front of the screen than those who don’t.
For example, the TV watchers are likely to be more sedentary, and therefore have less healthy diets than those who spend less time in front of the TV.
Those who don’t watch hours of television are also more likely to be physically active, and regular exercise has been linked to healthy sperm counts in previous studies.
And then there is the physical explanation for why spending too much time on the couch can lower sperm counts: it’s possible that increased scrotal temperatures from remaining in the sitting position too long can contribute to poorer-quality sperm.
The conclusion is that while lower sperm counts don’t necessarily mean a man is less fertile, staying active may help to keep sperm healthy.