As we all know, an overall healthy lifestyle including regular exercise is greatly beneficial to your health and wellbeing, but a study that was published in the Journal of Endocrinology found that too much exercise caused significant defects in sperm motility, output and quality. (Motility refers to your sperm’s ability to make it to the egg)
How Exercise Hurts the lil’ Guys
Scientists believe that excessive exercise can reduce sperm count for two reasons:
#1) Strenuous exercise can cause heat to build up around the testicles, which can damage sperm and interfere with healthy sperm production. “The boys” produce the best quality sperm when they keep cool (34.5-36 C or 94-96 degrees F, which is a couple of degrees cooler than normal body temperature)
#2) Too much exercise can produce high levels of adrenal hormones, which can lower testosterone. Testosterone is necessary for healthy sperm production.
How Can You Tell If You’re Working Out Too Much?
Just because a person works out several hours a day (like many athletes do) doesn’t automatically mean that they are exercising too much. Everyone is different, so what would be considered too much exercise for one person may be consider nothing to another. The best way to determine if you are over exercising is to be aware of the classic symptoms of overtraining. If you are engaging in vigorous exercise but are not experiencing any of the symptoms, you should be okay.
Symptoms of Over training:
- Decline in performance
- Chronic fatigue
- Elevated resting heart rate
- Hormonal changes
- Slower heart rate recovery
- Elevated blood pressure
- Persistent muscle soreness
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained loss of weight
- Heavy legged feeling
- Frequent colds and flu, gastrointestinal disturbances
How Exercise Helps
Exercise helps you get to and stay at a healthy weight, lowers stress levels, and lowers the risk of heart disease. Being over or under weight increases your risk of infertility. It’s a good idea to maintain a BMI in the mid range (20-25) in the months before and during trying to conceive. Stress also interferes with your hormonal systems, especially testosterone production, and finally some drugs that are used to treat heart conditions such as high blood pressure can cause infertility. Most of all exercise makes you feel great, physically and mentally!
Needed Lifestyle Changes
Exercise alone won’t completely turn your sperm motility around. Here’s a selection of the worst offenders to your wedding tackle:
Steroids Androstenedione is a “natural” anabolic steroid that is available at some health food stores, but it being natural doesn’t make it any less potent. Like any other anabolic steroid, it can shrink the testicles and lower sperm count.
Mr. Hot Pants Using a laptop or ipad on your lap or keeping your cell phone in your front pants pocket has been linked to increased scrotal temperature which is a big no-no.
Biking Cyclists, especially mountain bikers have been proven to register less then half the sperm count and sperm movement than non-cyclists. The constant steady pressure on the scrotum from being squished on skinny seats and hitting bumps are found to cause damage to arteries and nerves that can result in erectile dysfunction. If you bike (this includes scooters and motorbikes) choose a wider seat that doesn’t put pressure on your scrotum.
Cigarettes It may take longer for your partner to become pregnant if you smoke. A 2003 research paper confirmed that smoking affects the quality and quantity of sperm.
Mary Jane Marijuana has been linked with reduced sperm quality, and will reduce the fertility.The active ingredient in marijuana binds to estrogen receptors in the testicles, resulting in sperm that can’t hang on to an egg.
What you Eat Avoid processed foods. A diet heavy in processed foods is a diet deficient in Vitamin B and C, which play a vital role in fertility. Eat a healthy diet that includes foods rich in zinc, selenium, folate and antioxidants. Soy should not be consumed more than once a week because it has been found to increase estrogen levels.
Give it Time
If you are planning on trying to conceive and are worried about any of the problems listed in this article, don’t get your undies in a twist. Most male sub-fertility can be reversed in as little as 3 months, so the bottom line is, if you commit yourself to a few months of good levels of exercise and healthy eating you’ll be in top shape to be a daddy in no time.
Resources: Babycenter.in, livestrong.com, Men’s Health