Physical activity and semen quality among men attending an infertility clinic

Fertil Steril. 2011 Mar 1;95(3):1025-30. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2010.11.006. Epub 2010 Dec 3.


Objective: To examine the association between regular physical activity and semen quality.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: Couples attending one of three IVF clinics in the greater Boston area during 1993-2003. At study entry, male participants completed a questionnaire about their general health, medical history, and physical activity. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were derived using generalized estimating equations models, accounting for potential confounders and multiple samples per man.

Patient(s): A total of 2,261 men contributing 4,565 fresh semen samples were enrolled before undergoing their first IVF cycles.

Intervention(s): None.

Main outcome measure(s): Semen volume, sperm concentration, sperm motility, sperm morphology, and total motile sperm (TMS).

Result(s): Overall, none of the semen parameters were materially associated with regular exercise. Compared with no regular exercise, bicycling ≥ 5 h/wk was associated with low sperm concentration (OR 1.92, 95% CI 1.03-3.56) and low TMS (OR 2.05, 95% CI 1.19-3.56). These associations did not vary appreciably by age, body mass index, or history of male factor infertility.

Conclusion(s): Although the present study suggests no overall association between regular physical activity and semen quality, bicycling ≥ 5 h/wk was associated with lower sperm concentration and TMS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling
  • Cohort Studies
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / epidemiology*
  • Infertility, Male / physiopathology*
  • Infertility, Male / therapy
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Semen / cytology*
  • Sperm Count*
  • Sperm Motility*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires