Planning on having children? Then you might wanna cut back on watching TV

NotarYES / Shutterstock
NotarYES / Shutterstock

The quality of TV has really hit another level in recent years. Intricate plots, big budgets and mind-bending cliffhangers keep us glued to our seats, and as long as you’ve got an Internet connection you can always watch the next episode or series. But have you ever stopped to think what all that lounging around is doing to your health? Well if you’re a guy, you might want to listen up because bingeing on those box sets could seriously hurt your chances of having a family.

A new study from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark has shown that spending excessive amounts of time watching TV can seriously lower your sperm count. The team of researchers behind the paper, which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology recently, sought to investigate the effects, if any, of a sedentary lifestyle on testicular function (i.e. semen quality and reproductive hormones).

They surveyed 1,210 young Danish male participants over a period of four years between 2008 and 2012, during which time the men were required to attend a compulsory medical examination to determine their fitness for military service. They were given a routine physical exam and asked to deliver a semen sample, and were administered a questionnaire to assess sedentary behaviour and physical activity. For the purposes of the study, sedentary behaviour was considered any time spent watching TV or in front of a computer.

The findings showed that time spent watching TV was associated with up to a 29 percent drop in sperm concentration. Men who watched TV for more than five hours per day had an average sperm count of 37 million per milliliter, while those who watched hardly any had a much healthier average concentration of 52 million per milliliter. Furthermore, the TV watchers also exhibited reduced levels of testosterone. This could inhibit their ability to produce sperm, and might have other detrimental health implications such as a propensity to gain weight.

Interestingly, spending time in front of a computer was not found to be associated with reduced sperm count. One possible explanation for this is because sitting at a computer is more of a work activity and would not necessarily be associated with other unhealthy lifestyle choices, whereas long hours watching TV would typically coincide with things like lack of exercise and poor eating habits.

In any case, it’s pretty obvious that binge-watching Netflix is an unhealthy pastime that we should really try to moderate. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Pitching up in front of the gogglebox for more than an hour or two at a time might have been unthinkable in the past, but in the current TV-on-demand era it’s an easy trap to fall into (I’ll be the first to put my hand up — I got through Making a Murderer in one sitting). If you ever plan on making babies, however, you might wanna try kicking the habit.

Q: Will this study affect how much time you spend watching TV? Let us know in the comments below.

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