As a health coach that helps women get their body ready for pregnancy by creating a preconception plan that nourishes and improves fertility, I just had to delve a bit deeper into this topic to really find out if this is a myth or reality.

Exercise is good for you

One thing that is true is that exercise in whatever form is good for you and will improve fertility.

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Through my research, my initial finding was that cycling could have a serious effect on fertility for men who cycle very long distances and professionally.

However, if it’s just part of your exercise routine or commute to work i.e. 3 to 4 times a week, cycling doesn’t seem to present much of an issue.

Cause and effect

One theory, for long distance cyclists is that the problem may be caused by irritation and compression, which happens as a result of friction on the testicles against the saddle.

Another is that heat produced by wearing tight cycling shorts is to blame and may cause lower sperm counts, poorer sperm quality and less mobile sperm.

Supporting evidence

An infertility study of elite triathletes conducted at the University of Cordoba Medical School in Spain, suggested that cyclists are more likely to show signs of abnormal sperm and a low sperm count compared to other athletes, especially for those cyclists who regularly ride longer distances.

According to BBC mobile news, studies on the topic aren’t conclusive, they do indicate though that long-distance and off-road cycling can decrease fertility in men.

Having said that, I found another study from University College London, based on data from more than 5,000 cyclists, which suggests that men need not worry.

“This is good news for male cyclists, there is no association between cycling time and erectile dysfunction and infertility,” said study author Dr. Mark Hamer, of the Department of Epidemiology at UCL.

Apparently, modern cycling saddles are better designed now so the pressure that used to be there is no longer an issue.

Cycling effect fertility_2So don’t be put off cycling if you’re a regular cyclist

You’ll get so many health benefits from leading an active lifestyle. And not exercising can lead to fertility problems in itself.

If you’re cycling long distances, the advice is to lift yourself off the seat now and again. Or investing in a wider, padded bicycle seat that won’t compress your testicles, or wearing padded cycling shorts would help significantly.

Other factors that influence fertility

So, if cycling can cause issues with fertility, it is easily preventable. However below is a quick reminder of what else can cause infertility if you’re not careful.

Weight

Staying at a healthy weight helps to keep your sperm in good condition. You can do this by having a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly.

Being overweight (having a body mass index or BMI of 25 or higher) may lower the quality and quantity of your sperm. The effect is greater in men who have a BMI of 30 or higher. If your BMI is 30 or higher, losing weight before trying for a baby may improve the quality of your sperm.

Stress

Severe stress may affect some men’s sperm count. It does this by lowering levels of a hormone called gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which is needed for sperm production.

Alcohol

Heavy drinking can be harmful to sperm. Men who drink heavily on a regular basis have lowered sperm counts and testosterone levels.

The good news is that the harmful effects of heavy drinking are reversed once you cut down or cut out alcohol.

Smoking

Apart from smoking being generally harmful to your health, men who smoke may damage the quality of their sperm.

It may take longer for your partner to become pregnant, particularly if you smoke heavily. It takes about three months for your body to complete a cycle of sperm production.

So before trying to conceive, it’s advisable to take some time to cleanse your body and take steps to improve your health by changing your diet and reducing or cutting out any of the items listed above. Any changes you make to your lifestyle today will be of immense benefit to your long-term health.

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