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Physical exercise and fertility

PCOS | PCOS Treatment | PCOS Causes | PCOS Symptoms | PCOS Cost | PCOS diet

Dr Nitin Choudhari (IVF and infertility specialist, INDIRA IVF) explained, “It’s a well-known fact that any form of physical exercise is quite beneficial to the human body. It gets our blood flowing, heart racing and muscles working, all while burning a few calories from our body. It gets better- a man’s sex life can be greatly improved due to his physical activity! Researchers say that the quality and quantity of sperms in males who exercise is much better than those who do not.

To understand how this actually works, let’s get familiarised with the basics first. Fertility is simply the ability to produce healthy young ones. It could be with reference to both males and females and both have an equal role to play. Just as a woman’s eggs need to be healthy, a man’s sperms need to be healthy for a normal, successful baby. Now, what could go wrong? There is a large range of problems and complications due to which things could go wrong. It could be either genetic, physiologic, infective, or even due to lifestyle changes.

When an individual is unable to produce healthy gametes, which would result in an offspring, they are called infertile. Infertility is recognized as a disease by the WHO. In some cases, the infertility is absolute and cannot be treated. At least not yet. In other cases, surgical procedures, lifestyle alterations, and drugs can help in leading a fertile life. One of the recently discovered facts is that even regular exercise can have a huge role in increasing one’s fertility.

What does fertility have to do with fitness?

A recent study conducted in Iran involved four study groups that were observed for a period of 24 weeks. The four study groups consisted of:

  1. A group which did not have any form of physical exercise.
    2.    A group which performed high-intensity workouts three days a week.
    3.    A group which performed moderate intensity workouts three days a week
    4.    A group which performed high-intensity workouts three days a week for twice the duration as group c.

At the end of the study, it was seen that men who belonged to the group c had drastic improvements in their sperm quality and quantity than the other groups. Groups b and d also had reasonable improvements when compared to the group which did not have any physical forms of exercise. All in all, every study group other than the one that did not have any physical exercise, showed improvement in the sperm count and quality.

What are the changes in sperms?

Dr Nitisha Gupta (Gynaecologist & IVF specialist, INDIRA IVF, PATEL NAGAR, DELHI) explained, “It was noticed that the semen of men who exercised was healthier. The quantity is more and the texture is thicker. The structure of the sperms, the nutritive value, chemical composition and the genetic makeup was seen to be better than what it was prior to exercises. Even the motility of the sperms, which is the ability of a sperm to swim, was seen to be enhanced. A peculiar feature that was observed is that even the ability of sperms to swim straight plays an important role. This was also seen to have improved after physical exercise”.

If you feel that your improved fertility is something that stays even if you discontinue your workout regime, you are mistaken. Once the study was terminated, the quality of the sperms went back to usual. So, this shows that a regular workout is needed for results to stay.

An interesting factor to be noticed is that the group which had moderate intensity of exercises showed the most improvement when compared to all the other groups, despite the fact that the other groups might have performed more exercise. More might not always mean better.

When a separate group was formed, which continued with intense exercise for prolonged durations, the results were once more baffling. The sperm count was observed to have reduced! it was clearly seen that excessive exercising also negatively impacted male fertility.

How does this work?

According to experts, the mechanism of how this phenomenon actually works is not clearly understood, but it is clear that hormonal levels play an important role. There are variations in the levels of two main hormones: gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and testosterone(T). The two hormones are vital for the fertility of males and the variation of their levels in the blood is the deciding feature. When the moderate intensity of exercises was performed, there were changes in the metabolic stress factors and lowered DNA damages.

When the amount of exercise was increased beyond a point, the fertility decreased. One of the main reasons for this is believed to be due to the increased body heat. Sperms require a lower body temperature to survive. They are very sensitive to temperature changes. This is the main reason why they are stored outside the body, in testicles, where the temperature is lower than the body temperature. While performing high-intensity exercises, the body temperature rises much more than the sperms can withstand. This reduces their motility and soon changes the biochemical composition. Not only this, but scientists have observed lowered hormonal levels while performing strenuous exercises which affect the number of sperms.

Researchers debate that the outcome of the survey is greatly influenced by genetics. Human beings are creatures which are not meant to be idle couch potatoes but at the same time, are not to fatigue ourselves beyond a point. This is why regular, simple exercises like treadmill, maintained over a prolonged duration would be greatly beneficial.

Who would it work for?

To answer the question, would it work for all, is difficult as everyone’s physical and genetic make-up is variable. Not everyone may see the same results and some may not see any results at all. Also, each case of infertility is different from the other. There are varieties of infertility that cannot be corrected merely through exercises. They may require surgical or medical therapies and even hormone therapies to lead a fertile life. Some others may also have permanent deficiencies which cannot be treated. It is important to understand the problem one has so that the best-suited treatment plan can be chalked out. It is also very important to understand that exercise is not a treatment but simply an adjunct to improve fertility. Someone with absolute infertility will not benefit sexually by physical exercise.

What is the best-suited workout for better fertility?

As we saw from the researches conducted, high intensity workouts may burn those extra calories, but if the main aim is to improve your fertility, you might want to stick to the moderately intense workouts for a reasonable duration. A short workout of cardio combined with weights would suffice the need. Some of the familiar workouts that seem to have a stronger positive impact on sperm count are:

  • Lunges
    •    Planks
    •    Glute bridges
    •    Pelvic thrust
    •    Squats
  • So, what are you waiting for? Getting those swimmers ready is not a very difficult task anymore!

What are the other ways of improving fertility?

While exercising is one of the healthiest and natural ways to boost one’s fertility, there are many small changes that would make a difference in a man’s sex life. Some of those are:

  • Quit smoking and increased alcoholism
    •    Avoid tight clothes, especially undergarments.
    •    Avoid increasingly hot water baths
    •    Reduce cholesterol levels and maintain the blood lipid content.
    •    Avoid excessive exercising
    •    Avoid sexually transmitted diseases by always using protection.
    •    Have a nutritious diet which includes more of vitamin C
    •    Practice stress relieving techniques like meditation and yoga
    •    Increase intake of fenugreek
    •    Increase intake of vitamin D and zinc
    •    If none of the natural methods works, it is time to get a consultation and begin a more professional course of treatment.

Now that we have this piece of information, let’s implement physical fitness into our everyday schedule so that we not only lose a few pounds and get that toned look, but also benefit in the bedroom while we’re at it.

 

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