Bring it Down a Notch, Fella
In 2002 a research team headed by Dr. Ferdinand Frauscher, head of the department of uroradiology at University Hospital, Innsbruck, Austria, made a rather interesting discovery, one that surprised them all.
Go Hard or Go Home? Not Any More
In the study, a group for 40 men were subjected to ultrasound imagining of their scrotums. All of the men were mountain bikers. Most had shown up at their doctors' offices because they found suspicious lumps in their scrotums. The research team found that the cyclists had more tiny calcifications than men who were not mountain bikers. Also, compared to non-cyclists, mountain bikers register less than half the sperm count and less sperm movement.
"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."
Reduced Sperm Count and Motility
In the study, near 90 percent of the cyclists - 35 out of 40 - had abnormalities in their scrotums compared to 26 percent, or 9 out of 35, of the non-cyclists. Male mountain bikers also had more cysts and blood vessel abnormalities than the non-mountain bikers. Further measurements showed that sperm counts were affected in the mountain bikers as well. Non-cyclists averaged about 47 million sperm per millilitre and the cyclists' sperm counts only measured 20 million per millilitre. More than half of the non-cyclists' sperm showed normal movement, 51 percent, while only 29 percent of the sperm of mountain bikers showed normal movement.
The study was well documented and well supported when presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. "This may be the first study to show a well-documented correlation between scrotal injury and decrease sperm counts and motility," said Dr. Barry Goldberg, professor of radiology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He added, "Certainly it is the only case I have seen in the radiological literature. We do know that lower sperm counts and sperm motility reduce the ability to conceive."
Dr. Frauscher said: "The exact causes for the decreased sperm motility are unclear. We believe that repeated mechanical trauma to the testicles results in some degree of vascular damage, and may thereby cause a reduction in sperm motility."
Things A Man Can Do
In order to help preserve their ability to conceive with their partners, the suggestions for those men who engage in mountain biking include a larger investment in heavier bikes with saddle and pedal suspension systems, padded seats and padded pants. These can be considered reasonable efforts to reduce trauma and impact on the scrotum and they can also reduce injuries.