Fitness and Fertility – What I changed to have successful IVF treatment series. Part 4

How important is fitness and fertility?

Fitness and fertility go hand in hand. There is a direct correlation between infertility and excess body fat. Men are not born to be sedentary. We are born to be out hunting, gathering and moving around, just as our ancestors did. Our modern lifestyle has us cooped up in offices all day and this could be negatively impacting our fertility. After being diagnosed as infertile, I started looking into ways of fixing the problem naturally. I read many different reports on the influence exercise has on sperm quality. My research led me to discover numerous ways to improve the quality of my sperm. I read many studies and reports on fertility boosting exercises then tried nearly all of them.

HIIT training and Fertility – Fitness and Fertility

I read that testosterone levels could help with the quality of my sperm. Consequently, I incorporated testosterone boosting heavy lifting and High-Intensity Interval Training into my workouts. For our first two IVF treatments, I tried the new workouts in the 3 months that led up to the procedures. A subsequent sperm test saw minor improvements to the quality of my sperm. This could have been from exercise and the weight loss that accompanied it, but it could also have been from all the other aspects of my life that I changed. Although there were minor improvements in the motility of my sperm, the first two IVF treatment still failed.

Running – Fitness and fertility

During our third and final IVF treatment, I became obsessed with running. Running 4-5 days per week was common as I had read that it would help my sperm. It made sense, running would help me to lose weight and therefore improve the quality of my sperm. I signed up for some 10 K races and then progressed to half marathons. Studies have shown that running can have a positive impact on sperm quality.

Fitness and fertility. Running
My second half marathon just outside Berlin. Fitness and fertility

Running had become such big part of my life and I began to do resistance training that helped to improve my running times. These were exercises that worked mainly on my leg muscles and improved my posture and running stride. Some of these exercises were testosterone boosting exercises like squats, lunges and deadlift. I lost a lot of body fat which can have a positive impact on sperm quality.

Fitness and Fertility
My first 10 K race. Olympic Stadium Berlin. Fitness and Fertility-Running

Running led me to learn that I had a lot of niggles and postural issues that were previously undiscovered. This was especially prevalent around my hips and lower back. I took up yoga as it helped the alleviate the pain. I practised yoga and stretching at least three times per week online with youtube videos. Initially, I was not aware that the stretches that I was doing may also have had a positive effect on semen quality.

Fertility and fitness - Running London
5.30 am. Training for a half marathon while working in London.

How different types of fitness affect fertility? – Fitness and fertility

There are conflicting arguments for and against different types of fitness and fertility. Infertility has recently been recognised by WHO as a disease that affects roughly 1 in 8 couples. Unfortunately, my wife and I are one of the couples affected. When I found out that I had issues with the motility of my sperm, I changed many things in my life. I knew that I needed to get fitter and healthier to increase the chances of assisted reproduction working. I trained 6 days a week to get my body in shape for infertility treatment. My schedule looked something like this:

  • Monday – Gym – 30-45 mins
  • Tuesday – Run
  • Wednesday – Gym – 30-45 mins
  • Thursday – Run
  • Friday – Gym – 30-45 mins
  • Saturday – Run.
  • Sunday – Rest – Stretch

Study on Fitness and fertility.

A study by Urmia University in Iran checked the sperm of 261 men over six months and found that exercise can be a cheap and effective way of improving the quality of sperm in sedentary men. The study split the men into 4 groups:

  1. Group 1 – No exercise
  2. Group 2 – 3 x workouts per week – High-intensity interval training
  3. Group 3 – 3 x workouts per week. 30 mins – Moderate intensity continuous training
  4. Group 4 – 3 x workouts per week. One hour – High-intensity continuous training on a treadmill

Sperm was collected from the 261 test subjects before and after 24-week study and the results were very interesting. The test measured motility, morphology, volume, the number of sperm, and inflammatory markers. The results showed that all groups that exercised showed an improvement in the quality of their sperm.

The study found that weight loss was achieved by all of the men that exercised over the 6 months. This was likely a contributor to improving the sperm quality. The men that undertook the medium intensity continuous training experienced the best results. MICT is proven to reduce inflammatory agents and oxidative stress.

Further Reading:

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-12/bl-jsm120216.php

http://www.reproduction-online.org/content/153/2/157

Conclusion

For my third and final IVF treatment I was running, resistance training and or stretching every day. My diet improved and I had lost weight to get in optimal shape for the treatment. The final sperm test that I did showed drastic improvements in my sperm motility. My first sperm test showed 0% Sperm A- the most mobile sperm type. For my final sperm test, I had 16% Sperm A. This is below the recommended 20% but still a massive improvement.

Getting fit can have a positive impact on so many areas of your life. You have more energy, less stress and potentially better reproductive organs. Apart from being difficult to do consistently, there are not many downsides to regular exercise. Exercise is one of the cheapest and quickest ways to improve sperm quality. If you are serious about IVF working then you need to get as fit as possible.

Are you fit enough for fertility treatment? Did you try any other methods of getting fit to help with fertility? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

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