Cycling may damage triathletes’ sperm

Cycling training may have a major impact on sperm morphology, as researchers have proved this fact in triathletes who have high intensity cycling training during thrie career.

Professor Diana Vaamonde, from the University of Cordoba Medical School, Cordoba, Spain, reported the study in the 25th annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

Professor Vaamonde’s team assessed the correlation between the volume of training in each activity and sperm quality. A triathlon is a multi-sport endurance event consisting of swimming, cycling, and running in immediate succession over various distances.

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 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.

Researchers believe 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.

“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.”

“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,” said Professor Vaamonde.

Source: European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology, Belgium

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