In light of the tour down under coming to Adelaide, we wanted to take the opportunity to discuss the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well as touching on the effects of cycling on male fertility.
We are not trying to discourage cycling, in fact, pursuing an active lifestyle is highly encouraged. However, if you are an avid male cyclist undergoing fertility treatment and have received a poor semen analysis, then you could consider modifications to your regular cycling habits. Small changes such as seat and handlebar position or the amount of cycling undertaken could lead to vast improvements in your swimmers!
How does cycling affect male fertility?
You may not be aware that riding a bicycle can also have an effect on sperm quality. A study in 2015 examined the effects long-term low-to-intensive cycling on semen parameters in 24 healthy males. A semen analysis was performed prior to, during and at the end of a 16-week low-to-intensive cycling training class. The results showed that all semen parameters (i.e. the number, shape and movement of sperm) significantly decreased after the 16-week training period (1). How, you may be wondering? When riding a bike there is direct pressure on the perineum (the region between the genitals and the backside) which can lead to a reduction in blood supply to this area. This has been linked with sexual dysfunction and may also adversely affect spermatogenesis (the process of generating new sperm) (2). Despite the evidence, doctors often find the benefits of being active via riding a bike far outweigh any potential negatives.
A healthy lifestyle and fertility
It is clear that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, along with carbohydrates, fibre and folate is good for men and women alike, not only to help sustain energy levels and allow you to pedal for hours, but also improve fertility parameters such as semen quality (3). The antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables are able to rid our cells of reactive oxygen species (ROS – by-products of cellular respiration) which have been shown to have a negative effect on sperm number, movement, quality and function (4). Furthermore, increased amounts of fat and protein in men’s diets has also been associated with poor semen quality (3) and can be more likely to cause a stitch while riding! Simply eating your 2 fruit and 5 veg as recommended by SA health is a great step in the right direction to improving mental and physical well-being.
Want to find out more?
If you have any further questions about the information provided above, you can arrange anurse chat with one of our fertility nurses.
For up to date health and wellness information, check out our fertility news page, or download our e-book below.
1. Hajizadeh Maleki, Behzad & Tartibian, Bakhtyar. (2014). Long-term Low-to-Intensive Cycling Training: Impact on Semen Parameters and Seminal Cytokines, Clinical journal of sport medicine : official journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine
2. Schrader, Steven M. et al., Cutting Off the Nose to Save the Penis, The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 5, Issue 8, 1932 - 1940
3. Mendiola, Jaime et al., A low intake of antioxidant nutrients is associated with poor semen quality in patients attending fertility clinics, Fertility and Sterility, Volume 93, Issue 4, 1128 - 1133
4. Cocuzza M, Sikka SC, Athayde KS, Agarwal A. Clinical relevance of oxidative stress and sperm chromatin damage in male infertility: an evidence based analysis, Int Braz J Urol. 2007;33:603–621.