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Strenuous exercise linked to reduced libido in men, study suggests

01 March 2017

Men who strenuously exercise on a regular basis have a significantly decreased libido than those who engage in lower-intensity exercise, a new study has found.

"Clinicians who treat male patients for sexual disorder and, or counsel couples on infertility issues should consider the degree of endurance exercise training a man is performing as a potential complicating factor", the authors write.

The team started by developing an online questionnaire for nearly 1,100 participants, most of whom were experienced athletes who had trained hard for years.

The study included three separate questionnaires: one featured intimate questions about the respondents sex life, another featured inquiries about the respondent's weekly workout routine, and a third featured general health and wellness questions.

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. The scientists took their medical histories and asked them about their fitness habits, categorizing the men into groups based on their exercise length (short, medium, or long) and their exercise intensity (low, medium, high). This pattern persisted even after the team accounted for age, as older men naturally tend to report less sexual interest. But that doesn't also mean that you should let physical fitness fall by the wayside, as the study suggests. And exercise, especially weight lifting, has been shown to increase testosterone. In the meantime, he said, men worrying about the effects of their training on sex life should try exercising a little less.

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"Fertility specialists will often ask a woman about whether and how much she exercises", Hackney told the Times. The key to reaping the positive effects of exercise on testosterone is moderation, according to the Medicine & Science study.

There are plenty of things that can help and hurt someone's sex drive: stress, diet, self-esteem.

Testosterone replacement therapy is another common option.

In the future, Hackney and his colleagues hope to conduct more studies, which may include experiments that offer more a direct look at how exercise and libido, as well as male hormone levels interact with each other.

Strenuous exercise linked to reduced libido in men, study suggests