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The effect of experimentally induced psychological stress on seminal parameters in healthy volunteers


Studies on the effects of psychological stress on male infertility have so far yielded equivocal findings [1, 2]. The majority of these studies were based on subjective assessments of chronic stress. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of experimentally induced acute stress on seminal parameters.

Materials and methods

Twenty healthy postgraduate medical students produced two semen samples. The first sample was obtained in the lab after an acute stress-inducing task, and the second one at home. The acute stress inducing protocol was based on the Trier Social Stress Test [3].


Semen volume was significantly higher after acute stress, compared to semen volume at home (p=0.02). Semen pH was significantly lower after acute stress, compared to semen pH at home (p=0.039). A trend was observed for grade of motility to be higher after acute stress, than at home (p= 0.059).


This study was the first one to examine the effects of experimentally induced stress on semen parameters. The main limitation of the study concerns the small sample size. Findings suggest that exposure to acute stress influences semen parameters, possibly due to an increase in prostatic secretions, with a possible improvement in seminal parameters important for fertilization.


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    Clarke RN, Klock SC, Geoghegan A, Travassos DE: Relationship between psychological stress and semen quality among in-vitro fertilization patients. Hum Reprod. 1999, 14: 753-758. 10.1093/humrep/14.3.753.

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    Hjollund NH, Bonde JP, Henriksen TB, Giwercman A, Olsen J: The Danish first pregnancy planner study team: Reproductive effects of male psychological stress. Epidemiology. 2004, 15: 21-27. 10.1097/01.ede.0000100289.82156.8b.

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    Kirschbaum C, Pirke KM, Hellhammer DH: The Trier Social Stress Test - a tool for investigating psychobiological stress responses in a laboratory setting. Neuropsychobiology. 1993, 28: 76-81. 10.1159/000119004.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Vasilios Golias.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Golias, V., Panagopoulou, E., Tarlatzis, B. et al. The effect of experimentally induced psychological stress on seminal parameters in healthy volunteers. Ann Gen Psychiatry 7, S245 (2008).

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  • Healthy Volunteer
  • Small Sample Size
  • Medical Student
  • Infertility
  • Chronic Stress