When Enough Is Too Much

October 20, 2008

It`s All Fun Until...

There's something so exciting about a guy who loves the outdoors. Strong, tanned, lean and fearless, he takes to the hills with vigor and determination. It's a guy thing and it's great. Nearly 10 million people pursue the sport of mountain biking in North America, and the number is steadily growing. It's a great sport, a lot of fun, demanding and exhilarating. And, it's all fun and games for a guy, until...

...Until he wants to have babies with his partner. Researchers have discovered that mountain biking enthusiasts who assault the mountains and hills with extreme intensity and competitiveness could be risking their sexual health and their reproductive health as well. When compared to non-cyclists, mountain bikers have less than half the sperm count and less sperm movement.

Mountain Biking Slows Sperm

Dr. Ferdinand Frauscher, head of the department of uroradiology at University Hospital, Innsbruck, Austria lead a study, using ultrasound imaging to examine the scrotums of 40 mountain bikers and discovered cyclists had more tiny calcifications than an group of similar men who didn't engage in mountain biking. Most of the mountain bikers had shown up at their doctors' offices complaining of suspicious lumps in their scrotums.

"We were surprised that the motility (spontaneous movement) of the sperm and sperm count were reduced in the mountain bikers and only the mountain bikers," said Dr. Frauscher. "Based on our findings, we believe that extreme mountain biking results in semen alteration, which may have an impact on fertility."

Abnormalities and Lower Sperm Count

The cyclists involved in the study spent about two hours a day on their bikes and when examined, nearly 90 percent of them demonstrated abnormalities in their scrotums. They also had more cysts and blood vessel abnormalities than non-mountain bikers.

Lower sperm count and motility reduce the ability to conceive and Dr. Frauscher explained that the exact causes for the decreased sperm motility were unclear, however, repeated mechanical trauma to the testicles does result in some degree of vascular damage, thereby reducing sperm motility.

Ride, But Ride With Caution

Does this mean that men who want to have babies should never ride mountain bikes? No, not exactly. If a man wants to engage in mountain biking, he should invest in heavier (probably more expensive) bicycles which include saddle and pedal suspension systems to absorb shock and use padded saddles and padded pants. By doing so, they are reducing the impact on the scrotum and saving future generations.

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