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Mountain Bikers, Sperm Count

Toss Mountain Bikes Away Before Romancing Your Lady

 By Dr. Gifford Jones

Mountain bikers are an athletic macho group. But are they good lovers? And how many have trouble getting their wives pregnant? Recent studies show that mountain bikers get more than exercise when they travel over the Swiss Alps.

Dr. Ferdinand Frauscher, head of the department of radiology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, recently reported interesting findings about mountain bikers to the Radiological Society of North America meeting.

Frauscher and his colleagues studied 40 male mountain bikers ranging from 18 to 44 years of age. The bikers road two hours per day for six days a week covering a distance of over 5,000 kilometers a year. They were compared with 35 healthy non-bikers with an age range from 17 to 42 years

The findings were surprising. Male mountain bikers, although in superb physical health, had sperm counts of 20 million compared to 57 million in non-bikers. Moreover, sperm had lost some of the-tiger-in-the-tank and were less motile. And ultrasound studies revealed that 88 per cent of bikers had testicular calcifications, cysts and varicose veins in the scrotal area. But bikers did not show any hormonal changes.

Frauscher concluded that “Based on our findings we believe that extreme mountain biking results in semen alteration which may have an impact on fertility”.

Why mountain biking affects the production of sperm and slows down motility is not known. But Dr. Frauscher believes that repeated mechanical trauma to the testicles triggers vascular damage and subnormal sperm.

This is not the first study that questions how constant scrotal trauma causes unusual symptoms. Several years ago Dr. Seymour Solomon, professor of neurology at the Albert Einstein Medical College in New York, reported a fascinating case.

A 55 year old man had been exercising daily for 15 years. But he became bored, purchased a stationary bicycle and added this exercise to his daily routine. He also added something he hadn’t bargained for. He complained to his doctor that he experienced a feeling of tightness around the head of his penis while riding the bicycle.

Several months later he confided to the doctor that he had another problem. Now he was suffering from erectile dysfunction and his urinary stream had become weaker.

To make matters worse this patient was a doctor and like many physicians he decided to treat himself. This is rarely a good move sometimes with disastrous results. It’s often said that “he who treats himself has a fool for a patient!”

The doctor decided to increase the time on the stationary bicycle thinking this might solve the problem. He also lowered the seat. The sensation in the penis which had been present for six months disappeared. No doubt he began to think he was a genius at self-diagnosis. But soon he faced a more formidable problem. He became totally impotent.

The doctor’s colleague now suggested a common sense solution. He told the doctor to throw away the bicycle. Sexual potency returned in one month.

So if you love cycling, how important is this research? Bicycle impotence has been debated for some time. Some hard line physicians state that there are two kinds of cyclists, those who are impotent and those who will become impotent. They compare the routine to pressing on a straw. Once and it rebounds, but press several times and it remains flat. Doctors believe this is what happens eventually to the artery that supplies blood to the testicles and penis.

The majority of practitioners claim there’s little evidence that cycling causes impotence. After all, 90 per cent of Chinese males use a bicycle every day and China has no trouble maintaining her population.

Dr. Frauscher’s research, however, does present evidence that prolonged pressure on nerves and arteries can be detrimental to the quality and number of sperm. And if infertility is a problem, get off the bicycle.

The answer as always may be moderation. I’d suggest that if you intend to romance your lady take her on a Caribbean cruise and leave your mountain bike for another time. Then you won’t have to complain over a bottle of wine that you have a headache.

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Dr. Gifford Jones  Bio
Dr. Gifford Jones Most recent columns

W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of The Harvard Medical School. He’s been a ship’s surgeon, hotel physician and family doctor and later trained in surgery at McGill in Montreal, University of Rochester N.Y. and Harvard. His medical column is published by 60 Canadian newspapers and several in the U.S. He is the author of seven books. Dr. Walker has a medical practice in Toronto. His Web site is: http://www.mydoctor.ca/gifford-jones

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