Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

High Levels Of Cycling Training Damage Sperm: What Can Be Done To Protect Triathletes From Infertility?

Date:
June 29, 2009
Source:
European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE)
Summary:
The high-intensity training undertaken by triathletes has a significant impact on the quality of their sperm. Researchers said that the triathletes who did the most cycling training had the worst sperm morphology.

The high-intensity training undertaken by triathletes has a significant impact on the quality of their sperm, the 25th annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology heard June 29. Professor Diana Vaamonde, from the University of Cordoba Medical School, Cordoba, Spain, said that the triathletes who did the most cycling training had the worst sperm morphology.

Professor Vaamonde’s team has previously shown that both high exercise intensity and high exercise volume may be detrimental to sperm quality. They decided to take a more profound look at the sportsmen who seemed to show the greatest alteration – the triathletes – and assess the correlation between the volume of training in each activity and sperm quality. Of the three modalities, only cycling, the activity for which triathletes undertake the most training, showed a clear correlation with sperm quality. The more cycling training the sportsmen undertook, both in time and kilometres, the worse their sperm quality became.

The design of this particular study did not allow the scientists to isolate a single factor responsible for this problem, but Dr. Vaamonde believes that it is likely to be mainly due to either the irritation and compression caused by friction of the testes against the saddle, or the localised heat produced by wearing tight clothing. However, she also believes that reactive oxygen species – small molecules that are a natural by-product of oxygen metabolism and which react to stress by increasing to such an extent that they can damage cell structures – and energetic imbalances may play an important role in the alterations in sperm that the team observed.

“The fact that this effect is greater in triathletes than in other sports practices seems to indicate that it is something to do with the volume of training that they need to undertake to achieve and maintain a high level of fitness,” said Professor Vaamonde. “We believe that the same effect would be observed in any athletes undertaking a similar amount of cycling training.”

The team studied the semen values of 15 healthy Spanish triathletes, with an average age of 33. They were competing at both national and international level. Their training routines were analysed in detail, and particular note taken of the time they spent cycling each week. Sperm was taken after three days of sexual abstinence and analysed for their shape and form.

“We found a statistically adverse correlation between sperm morphology and the volume of cycling training undertaken per week,” said Professor Vaamonde. “While all triathletes had less than 10% of normal-looking sperm, the men with less than 4% – at which percentage they would generally be considered to have significant fertility problems – were systematically covering over 300km per week on their bicycles.”

Up to now, Dr. Vaamonde and her team have only undertaken observational analysis of the triathletes’ sperm. “We are now beginning chromosomal analysis,” she said, “in the hope that a better understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying this problem will lead us towards developing protective measures for these sportsmen.”

“We believe that all the factors inherent in this sports activity, especially with regards to the cycling part, may affect sperm quality; moreover, we think that normal physiological homeostasis – the body’s ability to regulate its own environment – may become irreversibly altered, therefore resulting in complex anomalies,” she said.

Triathletes undertake what is possibly the most demanding sporting activity in the world, with the most punishing ‘iron man’ competitions involving 3800 metres swimming, 180 kilometres cycling, and running a marathon (just over 42 kilometres). Recent research has shown that the risk of dying from a heart attack in a triathlon is nearly double that of dying in a marathon alone. Dr. Vaamonde’s findings add another layer to this health problem.

The scientists believe that the changes they observed may have to do with energetic imbalances, which they will assess in the future. They also intend to observe semen anomalies at different training points in order to better understand the physiopathological processes.

“Protective measures for these sportsmen need to be developed. Depending on the mechanism leading to the creation of abnormal sperm, these could include giving antioxidants and modifying training regimes to allow for recovery. Or we could take preventive measures by freezing athletes’ sperm before they start high intensity training,” said Professor Vaamonde. “We believe that we have uncovered a serious problem affecting triathletes who undertake significant amounts of training, and we hope that our research may lead to effective treatment.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). "High Levels Of Cycling Training Damage Sperm: What Can Be Done To Protect Triathletes From Infertility?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629081755.htm>.
European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). (2009, June 29). High Levels Of Cycling Training Damage Sperm: What Can Be Done To Protect Triathletes From Infertility?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629081755.htm
European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). "High Levels Of Cycling Training Damage Sperm: What Can Be Done To Protect Triathletes From Infertility?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629081755.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) California lawmakers pass a bill requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on campuses. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3 Things To Know About The Ebola Outbreak's Progression

3 Things To Know About The Ebola Outbreak's Progression

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Here are three things you need to know about the deadly Ebola outbreak's progression this week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins