Impact of yoga and meditation on male reproductive health
Among the many non-medical reasons for male infertility including lifestyle, lack of physical exercise and poor sleep, stress plays an important part. Physical and psychological stress can cause havoc in the body. In the fast-paced life of today, it is difficult to avoid stress. However, there are ways to deal with it, which will have an impact on the overall health of a person, including male infertility.
One of these stress relievers is the practice of yoga. From time immemorial, yoga has been used as part of the health system in India. It is now being practised around the world. Regular yoga practice reduces anxiety and stress, which can improve the health of the reproductive organs in males. Less stress improves sexual interaction and also helps in the treatment of ED (mild erectile dysfunction).
The sympathetic nervous system in the brain is the part that increases heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate etc. Yoga improves the involuntary functions by activating neurohormonal mechanisms to suppress sympathetic activity, thus relieving stress.
It helps with prevention and management of stress-related disorders by down regulation of the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis response to stress. It decreases anxiety and increases feelings of emotional wellbeing.
If there is a problem with sperm count or motility, regular yoga practice and meditation may help with improvement of the same. It has also proved to be good for prostate health, keeping prostate disorders at bay and reducing the size of enlarged prostate glands. Research has shown that, after a supervised yoga regime, sperm characteristics have improved in idiopathic male infertile patients. Consequently, it has come to light that yoga and meditation also have an impact on DNA methylation changes resulting in promotion of genes linked to maintenance of fertility and genome integrity.
OS (Oxidative stress – a disturbed balance between ROS (reactive oxygen species) and antioxidant defenses) and ODD (Oxidative DNA damage) are 2 types which, if present in males, can even have a consequence on the health of children. Yoga and meditation not only help in regulating OS so that other physiological functions run smoothly, but they also help in decreasing seminal oxidative stress and ODD, lowering the impact of diseases like cancer on the children.
If yoga is started in childhood, it helps develop strength, balance and endurance. The balanced growth of body and mind assist growing children in dealing with stress related issues. During the phase of reproductive growth and maturity, many changes take place in the body which can lead to mood swings and childhood stress. Practising yoga, meditation and mindfulness helps maintain a balance between the body and mind. It helps with toning muscles and improving strength and energy to keep the body fit, physically and mentally.
For adults, not only does yoga keep the body flexible and strong, but it also helps to improve circulation and functioning of the internal organs as well as steadying the nerves. There are certain yoga exercises for virility and sexual energy. Yoga may help in healing sexual dysfunctions such as spermatorrhea (excessive, involuntary ejaculation) and controlling testosterone secretion.
Among the many components of yoga such as postures and breathing exercises, Meditation is an important factor. It is used to release hormones that help with fertility issues. The hormone cortisol creates stress. Meditation reduces the level of cortisol, thereby lowering stress. One of the doctors at Harley Street Fertility Clinic confirms that stress has a damaging effect on the body, with a negative effect on egg and sperm quality. By meditating, damage to cells is decreased by the release of another hormone, DHEA, which prolongs the life of cells, including eggs. If practised regularly, meditation may help with improvement of the quality of sperm. It also assists in releasing the happiness hormone, Oxytocin which, along with serotonin, increases good moods. And, it has also been proven, a good mood and a smile definitely reduce stress!
Yoga acts as a mind-body “medicine” for reproductive health by possible improvement of reproduction functions in males as well as enhancing reproductive moods by reducing stress and anxiety.