Men's health

Do boffins produce better sperm?

zone image Study shows correlation between intelligence and sperm quality

Men of higher intelligence tend to produce better quality sperm, according to research published today by scientists at the Institute of Psychiatry, London.

Previous studies suggested that general intelligence is often associated with good health. Scientists assumed this was because brighter people led healthier lifestyles - less likely to smoke or stopped sooner, exercised more and occupied less dangerous jobs.

However, the scientists were curious to see whether genes which affected a person’s intelligence also had an affect on other human characteristics.

The researchers analysed the records of 425 US Vietnam veterans from 1985, who had donated sperm samples and undertaken intelligence tests. After accounting for age, alcohol and drug use, scientists found a small but significant correlation between intelligence and sperm quality. Better quality sperm was more concentrated, in higher numbers and more mobile.

However, for mere mortals who may be intimidated by the Times crossword, lead researcher Dr. Rosalind Arden offers some crumbs of comfort:

"This does not mean that men who prefer Play-Doh to Plato always have poor sperm: the relationship was marginal"

The researchers suggested that both sperm quality and intelligence may contribute towards an evolutionary 'fitness factor'.

"We look forward to seeing if the results can be replicated in other data sets, with other measures of intelligence and other measures of physical health that are also strongly related to physical fitness"

This article was published on Sat 6 December 2008

Image © Dmitri MIkitenko -

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