Semen quality improves with regular exercise in healthy men: Study
China: Men who exercise regularly have better quality semen than their physically inactive counterparts, a recent study published in the journal Human Reproduction has found.
According to the study, higher self-reported physical activity was associated with increased progressive and total sperm motility in healthy men screened as potential sperm donors.
A sedentary lifestyle and being overweight has long been linked to low sex drive and increased risk of infertility. Despite the claimed beneficial effect of moderate physical activity on semen quality, results from epidemiological studies have been inconclusive. Previous studies were mostly conducted among endurance athletes or male partners of couples who sought infertility treatment.
Yi-Xin Wang, Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, and colleagues sought to determine whether physical activity or sedentary time is associated with semen quality parameters.
For the purpose, they analyzed thousands of sperm samples from hundreds of men who qualified to donate sperm based on their health history and semen quality.
Healthy men screened as potential sperm donors were recruited at the Hubei Province Human Sperm Bank of China. Between April 2017 and July 2018; 746 men completed the long-form International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ). A total of 5252 semen samples were analyzed during an approximately 6-month period.
They asked participants how often they exercised, and how intensely, as well as what other activities they did. Then total metabolic equivalents (METs), moderate-to-vigorous METs and sedentary time were abstracted from the IPAQ. Sperm concentration, total sperm count, progressive motility and total motility in repeated specimens were determined by trained clinical technicians.
Key findings of the study include:
- After adjusting for multiple confounders, total METs and moderate-to-vigorous METs were both positively associated with progressive and total sperm motility.
- Compared with men in the lowest quartiles, those in the highest quartiles of total and moderate-to-vigorous METs had increased progressive motility of 16.1% and 17.3%, respectively, and had increased total motility of 15.2% and 16.4%, respectively.
- Sedentary time was not associated with semen quality parameters.
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"Our findings suggest that maintaining regular exercise may improve semen quality parameters among healthy, non-infertile men. Specifically, we found that higher self-reported total and moderate-to-vigorous METs were associated with improved sperm motility, which reinforces the existing evidence that physical activity may improve male reproductive health," concluded the authors.
The study, "Physical activity and sedentary time in relation to semen quality in healthy men screened as potential sperm donors," is published in the journal Human Reproduction.