Strenuous exercise linked to lower libido in men

Posted February 28, 2017

A team of University of North Carolina researchers began work on the new study after noticing that there indeed weren't too many papers exploring the relationship between different levels of exercise and the male libido. A separate survey had a detailed query about their exercise habits, such as the frequency and intensity of their workouts.

All respondents were volunteers and many were current or former endurance athletes - runners and cyclists.

Study leader Anthony Hackney, a professor of exercise physiology and nutrition at UNC, told the New York Times, their work doesn't prove high intensity workouts cause a diminished sex drive, only that strenuous exercise "was associated with lower libido".

The participants were required to fill and online survey regarding their sex lives, how often they thought about it and engaged it.

The study did say that heavy exercisers may tend to get too exhausted after prolonged workouts, or may experience a drop in testosterone, which could explain the lower libido. According to the survey results compiled and analyzed by Hackney's research team, men who racked up more than 10 hours of training per week, and those whose training intensities were self-reported as greater than 70 percent of their VO2 max, were most likely to be categorized as having a low sex drive. It just means that you need to exercise moderately. The researchers discovered a major discrepancy between the libido of the two groups, as the latter group has lower levels of sex drive than the first.

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Too much exercise can significantly reduce your sex drive, and possibly chances of getting pregnant. This occurs when testosterone and the luteinizing hormone are suppressed.

Because the study used a small sample of men that can't possibly represent the entire gender, it can't definitely declare that harder workouts lead to low libidos. Most of these participants were professional athletes who underwent intense training sessions for years. Both moderate and light physical activity were associated in this study with relatively high libidos, he points out. It's a fine line, however, as being a couch potato can also tank his (and your) sex drive.

In regards to its role in fertility, Hackney suggests fertility specialists should ask men, along with women, whether and how much they exercise. Less is known about men and the effects of working out on their libido and fertility.

Physical exercise done in moderation has a lot of beneficial effects on your body, from health to aesthetics. "Clinicians who treat male patients for sexual disorders and, or counsel couples on infertility issues should consider the degree of endurance exercise training a man is performing as a potential complicating factor".