Of obese men and infertility

Dr Kanchi Khurana
Obesity is one of the major health challenges worldwide, especially in the developed nations. It definitely is a major cause of ill-health and premature deaths as being overweight increases the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, osteoarthritis and some cancers like colon and breast.
Unfortunately obesity can be physically restrictive and therefore prevent intimacy and affect your sex life too.
Individuals are considered obese when they weigh more than 20% above their ideal weight. And about 30% of obese people seeking help controlling their weight indicate problems with sex drive, desire, performance, or all three. So if you desire to have a better sex life, prevent obesity, lose weight and maintain it. This may sound absurd but obesity is a barrier to fully enjoy the sexual experience.
How obesity is related to sex life?
Unfortunately obesity can affect your sex life. Obesity hinders stamina which is important to sustain sexual performance. Obesity affects hormonal balance which in turn affects testosterone levels, causing a dip in your libido. Obesity is linked to heart diseases as the arteries are blocked; this also affects blood flow to the genitals. Lack of blood circulation causes erectile dysfunction.
Obese men tend to have lower total and free testosterone levels. Testosterone is an important male hormone that results in development of male sexual organs and strong bones apart from building large muscles and giving deep voice. Testosterone levels begin to rise at puberty and peak in early adulthood after reaching a plateau and then declining with age. Obesity tends to reduce the levels of testosterone which may at times lead to erectile dysfunction. But even with normal testosterone levels, obese men have an increased risk of erectile dysfunction. Also, obesity in men is directly linked to low frequency of sexual intercourse. It is definitively linked to low sperm count and reduced sperm motility which can be a cause of infertility. Furthermore, higher temperatures of the testes are linked to low sperm count. Excess fat in the inner thighs and pubic region results in high testes temperatures of over 35°C. This may be sufficient to hinder sperm production.
What major complications can obesity create?
Obesity increases the risk of developing a number of serious health conditions. Blood pressure increases and leads to cardio-Vascular diseases and even stroke. This is a serious condition in which your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs. Highly obese person are more prone to diabetes, cancer, gallstones and sleep apnea.
Osteoarthiritis is common among women and may also have irregular periods and infertility. Obesity may also take an emotional toll, some experience depression, feelings of social isolation, discrimination and an overall lower quality of life. Apart from health issues, growing trend of childhood obesity directly affect a teenager’s puberty. It disrupting the timing of puberty and ultimately lead to a diminished ability to reproduce, especially in females. Another possible affect on pubertal timing, and reproduction in general, is disruption of circadian clocks, which reflect the natural rhythms of night and day. Disrupted sleep-wake cycles can affect the secretion of hormones such as cortisol, testosterone, and insulin.
Following a healthy lifestyle from childhood can help you prevent overweight and obesity. Thus, parents and families should encourage their children to make healthy choices, such as following a healthy diet and being physically active. Make healthy lifestyle a family goal by keeping the calorie needs in mind. Try to be active with family and limit your kids screen time (TV, Computers Mobile phones). Keeping a track of weight, BMI and weight circumference.
(The author is a Gynaecologist & IVF expert, Indira IVF hospital)