TIGHT, trendy jeans are in vogue. Men and women, boys and girls, even the elderly are embracing it. Most Nigerian families also erroneously celebrate obese children as pointers to affluence. But medical experts say excessively tight jeans, known as skinny jeans, and childhood obesity may be responsible for growing cases of infertility.
How? Tight jeans have been discovered to cause bladder problems, testicular torsion and damage sperm production; and childhood obesity triggers early onset of puberty, leading to a diminished ability to reproduce – particularly in women.
Medical experts, in reports published recently in the journal, Frontiers in Enocrinology, said there is still much to learn about the consequence of obesity and puberty, as well as its effects on the liver, pancreas and other endocrine glands. But, they say, in general, puberty is starting earlier in girls and the problem is accelerating.
A fertility expert and joint pioneer of the first test tube baby/In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) in Nigeria, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, told The Guardian: “What wearing tight jeans does to the body is that it brings the scrotum (part of a male’s body located behind the penis) close to the body, which increases the temperature of the testis. The high temperature of the testis will affect sperm production. In the process of trying to adjust to temperature, the testis can be twisted leading to testicular torsion.”
Ashiru, however, said while a direct connection to tight clothing and low sperm counts has not been researched, it has been noted that sperm counts tend to be higher among men who wear boxer shorts for underwear instead of those tight fitting briefs. “If you have to wear tight jeans you have to wear an underwear that is stable,” he said.
The adjunct professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, United States, said the testis is one of a pair of organs (plural is testes) and part of the male reproductive system where sperm is produced. Testicular torsion occurs when the spermatic cord to a testicle twists, cutting off the blood supply (a condition called ischemia).
Ashiru, who is also the medical director of Medical Art Centre (MART) Maryland Surulere, Lagos, said the most common symptom is the rapid onset of acute testicular pain; the most common underlying cause is a congenital malformation known as a “bell-clapper deformity” wherein the testis is inadequately affixed of the spermatic cord allowing it to move too freely on its axis and become entangled.
A study of 2000 British men found one in 10 men wearing skinny jeans incurred testicular torsion. Others complained of bladder problems or urinary infections causing some to slack off skinny jeans use and avoid permanent bladder damage.
According to the study, “the testicular malady is created by the tight jeans constricting free movement of the spermatic cord, which then gets twisted, creating testicular torsion. This cuts off blood supply and can lead to gangrene.”
Prof. Patrick Chappell, of Oregon State University, United States, said: “The issue of so many humans being obese is very recent in evolutionary terms, and since nutritional status is important to reproduction, metabolic syndromes caused by obesity may profoundly affect reproductive capacity.
“Either extreme of the spectrum, anorexia or obesity, can be associated with reproduction problems.”
Chappell added: “Any disruption of circadian clocks throughout the body can cause a number of problems, and major changes in diet and metabolism can affect these cellular clocks.
“Disruption of the clock through diet can even feed into a further disruption of normal metabolism, making the damage worse, as well as affecting sleep and reproduction.”
Previous studies in humans have found correlations between early puberty and the risk of reproductive cancers, adult-onset diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Early onset puberty has also been associated with increased rates of depression and anxiety in girls, studies have found, as well as increased delinquent behaviour, smoking and early sexual experiences in both girls and boys.
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