Stress in the early stages of pregnancy can lead to reduced sperm count and lower testosterone levels in male offspring, says a recent report. The study, quoted by the report in The New York Times examined 643 young men, aged 20. Among them, mothers of 407 had gone through stressful events like death of a family member, divorce, loss of a job, marital discord or monetary problems.
As per the findings of the report, published in the Journal of Human Reproduction, men whose mothers had suffered from three or more stress-related issues in the early gestation period, had a 36 per cent lower sperm count, as compared to those whose mothers didn’t go through any such situation. They also had 12 per cent lower sperm motility and their blood testosterone levels were 11 per cent lower.
Eight to 14 weeks’ gestation period is considered to be a critical development time for the normal growth of male reproductive organs. After 18 weeks of pregnancy, the association ceases to be effective or significant.
This, however, is an observational study and, as Dr Roger Hart, senior author and professor of medicine at the University of Western Australia agrees, that deciphering these associations 20 years later is not completely without its flaws or problems.
“The time to get pregnant is when you’re healthiest, both physically and psychologically, and with an environment around you that is free of stress,” he asserted, despite the supposed discrepancies.
Needless to say, a stress-free environment is an absolute must, both for the mother and the child.