BOOSTING MALE FERTILITY
Seeking an alternative treatment when trying to conceive is more common than you may think.
According to a study, in nearly half of infertility cases, the male is shown to have less than desirable sperm quality (1).
Whilst your physician may advise you to get in shape and lose a few pounds, studies have reported the benefits of varying modes of exercise improving male fertility (2,3,4,5,6,7). Recent research has backed the use of HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training) as an effective tool.
The research found that performing three HIIT sessions per week, for 24 weeks showed to have significant results in sperm quality.
The study showed an increase in the quality of the sperm's DNA (genetics), an increase in the participant's ability to conceive with their partners, a decrease in seminal pro-inflammatory cytokines and markers of oxidative stress.
The HIIT sessions
- Weeks 1 - 12
- 20-minute sessions
- 10 sets of high-intensity work (75–85%) for 60 seconds, with an active recovery period of 60 seconds at a lower intensity (50–55%).
- Weeks 13 - 24
- 30-minute sessions
- 15 sets of higher workloads (85–95%) for 60 seconds, with an active recovery period of 60 seconds at a lower intensity (50–55%).
The study stated that 12 weeks or less of HIIT training was not sufficient enough to cause any significant change within the seminal inflammation and oxidative stress (8).
Additionally, the same researchers found significant benefits using moderate aerobic training as detailed below (9). Although HIIT training can be performed much quicker in 20 - 30 minute sessions compared with 25 - 45 minutes sessions of moderate exercise.
Moderate Aerobic Training
- Weeks 1 - 12
- 25 - 30-minute sessions
- 3 - 4 days a week at 45–55% of their max
- Weeks 13 - 24
- 40 - 45-minute sessions
- 4–6 days a week at 56–69% of their max
What Are Markers Of Inflammation & Oxidative Stress?
Cytokines are pro-inflammatory proteins that are mostly responsible for the loss of metabolic homeostasis (maintaining balance & regulation) of tissues (10). The impact and damage these Cytokines have on the genital tract is associated with oxidative stress, which is well known to damage sperm function and damage tissue (11).
What is Sperm DNA Fragmentation?
Sperm DNA fragmentation is used to signify abnormal genetic material within the sperm, which in turn may lead to a delay or inability to conceive, cause miscarriage or IVF failure due to the poor quality of the sperm.
DNA fragmentation will significantly reduce the succession rate of conceiving naturally or through IVF (12).
What else could Impair my fertility?
It has been demonstrated that a high-fat or a poor diet could affect the gene quality of your sperm and the hormone content of the seminal fluid which can influence the early development of a fetus.
Studies show that male fertility and the health of the offspring can be improved by weight loss in obese and overweight males (13).
Research shows that smoking affects sperm in many ways. It causes sperm cells to be slower and reduced in size as It harms their DNA. Smoking can also affect the seminal fluid ejaculated with sperm (14).
Steroids can interfere with the hormone signalling needed to produce sperm (15) and studies have found that significant increases in testosterone levels can suppress sperm levels (16).
- Wall, Jayasena. Diagnosing male infertility BMJ 2018; 363:k3202.
- Maleki, Tartibian, Moderate aerobic exercise training for improving reproductive function in infertile patients: A randomized controlled trial, Cytokine, 92 (2017) 55.
- Maleki, Tartibian, Chehrazi, The effects of three different exercise modalities on markers of male reproduction in healthy subjects: a rando-mized controlled trial, (Cambridge, England) 153 (2) (2017) 157.
- Maleki, Tartibian, Eghbalii, Comparison of seminal oxidants and antioxidants in subjects with different levels of physical fitness, Andrology 1 (4) (2013) 607–614.
- Maleki, Tartibian, Long-term Low-to-Intensive Cycling Training: Impact on Semen Parameters and Seminal Cytokines, Clin. J. Sport Med. 25 (6) (2015) 535–540.
- B. Hajizadeh Maleki, B. Tartibian, Resistance exercise modulates male factor in-fertility through anti-inflammatory and antioxidative mechanisms in infertile men:A RCT, Life Sci. 15 (2018) 150–160.
- Maleki, Tartibian, Chehrazi, The effects of aerobic, resistance,and combined exercise on markers of male reproduction in healthy human subjects:randomized controlled trial, J. Strength Conditioning Res. 33 (4) (2019)1130–1145
- Maleki, Tartibian, High-intensity interval training modulates male factor infertility through anti-inflammatory and antioxidative mechanisms in infertile men: A randomized controlled trial, Cytokine, Volume 125,2020,154861.
- Maleki, Tartibian, Moderate aerobic exercise training for improving reproductive function in infertile patients: A randomized controlled trial, Cytokine, Volume 92,2017,Pages 55-67.
- Wojdasiewicz. The Role of Inflammatory and Anti-Inflammatory Cytokines in the Pathogenesis of Osteoarthritis, Mediators of Inflammation, Volume 2014; Article ID 561459.
- Betteridge. What is oxidative stress?, Metabolism. 2000 Feb;49(2Suppl1):3-8.
- Wright. C, Sperm DNA damage caused by oxidative stress: modifiable clinical, lifestyle and nutritional factors in male infertility. Reproductive Biomedicine Online, Volume 28, Issue 6, 2014, P 684-703.
- Chambers, T.J., Anderson, R.A.The impact of obesity on male fertility. Hormones. Volume 14, Issue 4, October 2015, Pages 563-568
- Kovac JR, Khanna A, Lipshultz LI. The effects of cigarette smoking on male fertility. Postgrad Med. 2015;127(3):338–341.
- El Osta R. Anabolic steroids abuse and male infertility. Basic Clin Androl. 2016;26:2. 2016
- Meriggiola, Higher testosterone dose impairs sperm suppression induced by a combined androgen-progestin regimen. J Androl. 2002;23(5):684-90.