How can men improve fertility with exercise and diet?
Male Subfertility is said to exist when a man’s chances of getting his spouse pregnant are low. The sperm count, motility, structure, integrity of the DNA contained in the sperm, physicochemical properties of the semen are the determining factors.
The environment for sperm production must be improved as much as possible in order to maximize a man’s reproductive potential. Sperm count and quality are substantially impacted by factors affecting testosterone levels.
Sperm count can also be impacted by illness, including cancer and its treatment, infections and certain genetic abnormalities.
Obesity reverses the normal ratio of testosterone to estrogen in an estrogen-dominant milieu. Falling/reversal of testosterone to estrogen ratio brings about decreased libido, reproductive potential and sexual dysfunction in men.
However, healthy lifestyle choices like adequate sleep, regular exercise, maintaining optimum weight, and a balanced diet can boost the hormones that regulate sperm production & improve fertility.
Role of Exercise in Fertility
Men can benefit from regular exercise by achieving and maintaining a healthy weight as well as improving their cardiovascular health. There are certain limitations, but mild to moderate exercise can help improve semen parameters and increase male reproductive potential. Before beginning an exercise regimen, men with existing health issues must consult their doctor.
Mild to moderate exercise helps in releasing feel-good neurochemicals from the brain, elevates mood, improves libido, enhances metabolism, loses/maintains weight, improves sleep quality, enhances cardiovascular health, and may enhance fertility and sexual function.
The best exercises for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and optimising fertility involve a good mix of resistance and cardiovascular activity.
Exercises that can bother the prostate and strain the reproductive organs should be done in moderation, such as triathlons and competitive cycling. Excessive exercise & extremes of physical strain decrease testosterone. Moreover, methods of safeguarding fertility are also crucial, such as using crotch shields during contact sports, avoiding saunas, or upgrading to a better-quality ergonomic bicycle seat that relieves excess pressure on the male pelvic anatomy.
Exercise in Sunlight will also provide the benefit of improving Vitamin D levels in the body.
Role of diet in Fertility
Choice of a healthy source of complex carbohydrates, class 1 proteins & polyunsaturated fats are essential in consideration with individual dietary choices and preferences.
The ratio between carbohydrates, proteins, and fat should be maintained. Fiber is an essential part of each meal. It improves satiety.
Foods with low glycemic index should be favoured.
Antioxidant-rich Rainbow diet with nuts, fresh fruits, and vegetables with adequate amounts of all essential minerals, vitamins & micronutrients is best for general health and fertility.
The calorie intake should be commensurate with the level of physical activity.
Adequate Hydration is integral to a good diet.
Processed food high in fats, carbohydrates, sodium, and sugar, and poor in fiber is detrimental to health. However, enjoying an occasional indulgence will motivate you to follow a healthy diet.
Healthy snacking is to be encouraged. So, it is important to be disciplined in following a healthy diet.
Men should be advised to quit smoking and minimise alcohol intake.
A healthy lifestyle, weight management, adequate cardiovascular activity, and dietary support are crucial to guide the male partner in maximizing his fertility and attaining parenthood. It will take time, commitment, and dedication to making these lifestyle adjustments. These are minor adjustments that need to be adopted and adapted to. These measures will eventually navigate the path to general fitness and enhanced fertility.
Dr. (Major) Uma Maheshwari M, Senior Fertility Consultant, Apollo Fertility, Chennai
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