Can Body-Building Activities Cause Male Infertility?

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Bodybuilders are athletes who have a strict training programme where they train their muscles excessively in order to get bigger muscles. These athletes are also on a strict diet to maintain the leanness of their muscles. This sport is done more for aesthetical reasons rather than functional reasons.


Body-Building Activities

Intense Training Programme

Bodybuilders have a very strict and extreme training programme where they do resistant training with weights that will cause an increase in muscle mass. Types of training exercises that they pursue are squats, lunges, deadlifts and pull-ups, usually along with some weights, for at least 4 sessions per week. When an athlete is seen to become stronger, the weight of the resistance training can be increased.

A healthy athlete will also maintain good cardiovascular health by practising aerobic exercises, like running.


Strict Diet Requirements

Bodybuilding can’t be mastered just via resistance training, but the athlete’s diet plays a crucial role in getting the results that they strive for. Most bodybuilders ingest diets that can help to increase muscle mass and usually include high-protein diets. Protein is a source of amino acids, which play a crucial role in building muscle mass. As these athletes train extremely hard, muscle fibre breaks down, but fueling the muscles with protein in their diet results in greater muscle mass.



They also focus on ingesting “good carbohydrates” such as whole grain foods, which tend to not let the blood glucose increase too quickly, make them feel fuller for longer, aid their exercise and help with muscle recovery. Whole grain foods also maintain a sustained release of energy and include foods like whole grain rice, quinoa and oats.


Healthy Fats

Healthy fats, such as nuts and avocado, are also allowed, as these food types contain more calories per gram than carbohydrates. Thus, it can aid an athlete during strenuous exercises by providing energy by taking in less food. They also help with the absorption of lipid-based vitamins within the body.



Some athletes also use supplements to help them reach their goals. Usually, the supplements aid the athletes by giving them more energy and can help to improve muscle mass.


The Misuse of Anabolic Steroids

It has been known that sometimes athletes misuse anabolic steroids to improve their performance. Although some of these steroids are only allowed to be used via the issuing of a prescription from a doctor, it is common knowledge that steroids are illegally available via other sources that have contributed to the misuse and abuse of these substances. 

Anabolic steroids mimic the effects of Testosterone, which increases muscle mass and strength. The overuse or misuse of these steroids can cause men to grow breasts, known as gynecomastia, and can even cause loss of facial and body hair. 



The Effects of These Activities on Male Fertility

Training Programme and Diet Requirements

The strict training programme and meal plan for bodybuilders have a positive effect on the overall health of an athlete. Their bodies are fuelled with nutrients and by staying active they maintain a healthy lifestyle. By abstaining from the consumption of alcohol and smoking it reduces an athlete’s risk of decreased semen parameters, which are often a result of excessive drinking and smoking. It is important to bear in mind that vigorous training, although healthy up to a point, can alter the spermatogenesis process, as intense training can cause excessive release of testosterone and a decrease of it thereafter.


Lifestyle Choices

Healthy lifestyle choices can have a positive impact on fertility by maintaining optimal levels of sperm count and good sperm parameters. Staying active and training also causes the biological secretion of testosterone which is responsible for the process of spermatogenesis and the production of sperm. This can help to reach optimal levels of sperm count and increase a male’s fertility.


Supplements and Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids have immense effects on male fertility. As anabolic steroids mimic the effects of testosterone, the body feels that it has too much testosterone and will manipulate the hormones in the body to reduce the amount of biological testosterone available. Testosterone is necessary for the production of sperm, and when it is reduced, it can cause erectile dysfunction, a decrease in sperm count and semen parameters leading to male infertility.

Studies have found that some protein supplements contain pre-androgenic or anabolic substances, that can also affect a male’s fertility as mentioned previously. Some supplements such as anti-oxidants can help to decrease oxidative stress in the body and help to restore a male’s fertility.



Athletes usually use creatine to help maintain energy during their workout which can help to improve muscle performance. Interestingly, studies have shown that creatine levels in males with normal fertility are higher than in infertile males. It has also been found that creatine found in supplements can increase the fertilisation capacity of sperm as well as enhance the sperm’s capacitation when used in an IVF setting. Creatine can thus help to improve the possible insemination of an ovum and contribute to a male’s fertility.


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