From his favourite sports channels to movie channels, and sometimes news channels, watching television is one of the ways Emeka Okon, a civil servant, unwinds anytime he comes back from work. And on weekends, watching the TV is like a ritual for him.
“I come back home around 6pm every day and from that moment, I don’t joke with some TV stations and when my wife comes back, we watch some movie channels together before we go to bed,” he said.
Emeka’s love for TV has been amplified by the ongoing Olympics games in Rio, Brazil, as he has tried to keep up with the different games, especially the ones that concern his fellow countrymen and women, while Telemundo Channel has remained a sweet alternative for him during his pastimes.
But, unknown to Emeka and many other persons who take pleasure in watching TV for hours, there are some inherent disadvantages in such, especially for men.
Findings by some researchers have shown that watching TV more than five hours daily could affect a man’s fertility as it can reduce the sperm count by one-third.
The researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, studied 1,200 “healthy” young men. Some of the participants were instructed to watch TV for at least five hours every day, while the others were told to abstain from TV or reduce how much of it they watched. The record of their sperm counts were taken before and after the study.
According to the findings of the study, published on American Journal of Epidemiology, and reviewed on Mail Online, those who watched TV for more than five hours had average sperm count of 37 million per millilitre of fluid, while those who hardly watched TV had 52 million per millilitre of fluid. Whereas, normal sperm count is adjudged to be between 40 million and 300 million per millilitre
“Furthermore, decreases in testosterone were detected in men watching many hours of television, the researchers added. The hormone testosterone plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as the testis and prostate, as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle and bone mass, and the growth of body hair.”
The researchers concluded that watching too much TV could make men less fertile, given the findings of their study.
In another study by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, it was also found that watching TV may likely affect sperm count.
The researchers, including Jorge Chavarro, an assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology and lead author, Audrey Gaskins, a doctoral student in the institution, said 20 hours of TV weekly could reduce sperm count by half, whereas engaging in exercise can boost sperm count.
In the study, they analysed the semen quality of 189 men. They asked the participants about their physical activity and how much TV they watched, taking their respective health conditions into consideration.
They said their results showed that men who watched more than 20 hours of TV weekly had a 44 per cent lower sperm count than those who watched almost no TV.
But, on the other hand, men who exercised for at least 15 hours weekly at a moderate to vigorous rate had a 73 per cent higher sperm count than those who exercised less than five hours per week. “However, mild exercise did not affect sperm quality,” they added.
Gaskins said, “We know very little about how lifestyle may impact semen quality and male fertility in general so identifying two potentially modifiable factors that appear to have such a big impact on sperm counts is truly exciting.
“Men engaging in exercise for seven hours or more per week, essentially one hour a day had 48 per cent higher sperm concentration in their semen than men who were engaging in less than one hour per week and there are particular forms of exercises that boost sperm counts.
“Weightlifting has been shown to increase testosterone levels and improve insulin sensitivity, both of which have been found to be related to higher sperm concentrations. But, there is one form of outdoor exercise that can decrease male fertility.
“Men who rode bicycle for more than an hour and a half each week had 34 per cent lower sperm concentrations than men who did not bike, because the pressure placed against the scrotum by a bike seat or the increased scrotal temperatures caused by such pressure are possible explanations for this decrease in fertility.”
The researchers concluded that as exercise boosts sperm count, watching too much of TV could reduce sperm count. They also cautioned that a reduced sperm count, even though linked to lower fertility, does not necessarily preclude such men from impregnating a woman. Regardless, it reduces their chances.
Meanwhile, apart from excessive watching of TV, there are other things men do that can impair their sperm count, and ultimately, their fertility. And it should be noted that male infertility is often due to low sperm count.
A consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, had told Saturday PUNCH in a chat recently that apart from the fact that infertility can be inherited, through the genes, lifestyle, vocation, infections and use of certain drugs could also cause low sperm count.
According to him, “Some vocations can also reduce sperm count. There is a documented study in France that shows that men who work in fuel stations or paint industries over a very long time can stand the risk of having low sperm count. Also, if you play golf over a long time, the insecticide they use at golf courses could cause low sperm count.
“It is for the same reason that people are advised not to put their laptop on their laps, neither should they put any radioactive device, like mobile phone, in their pocket because of the radiation. Motorcycle riders and truck drivers whose testes are subjected to very high temperature for a long period of time, by virtue of their seating position, can also have their fertility affected.”
Meanwhile, a previous study, earlier treated on this page, had revealed that wearing tight (butt-squeezing and thigh-hugging) trousers could also lead to low sperm count, coupled with the fact that it could cause testicular torsion, where one testicle gets twisted on itself, and if left untreated, the torsion could cut off circulation and cause the testicle to die.
A reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Celia Dominguez, had pointed out that the temperature of the groin area matters for the testes to produce sufficient quality and quantity of sperm.
He said, “The temperature of testes must be lower than the core body temperature, so, something as simple as changing the kind of underwear a man wears can make a difference. Testes can overheat when a man wears tight wears or brief underwear.
“If the testes are too hot – several degrees above where they should be – they are not able to produce sufficient sperm, resulting in low sperm count. Just be aware, it takes 10 to 11 weeks for sperm to be produced, so dress and plan accordingly.”