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Fertil Steril. 2011 Jul;96(1):28-33. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2011.03.111. Epub 2011 May 11.

Physical exercise at high altitude is associated with a testicular dysfunction leading to reduced sperm concentration but healthy sperm quality.

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  • 1Andrology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To explore the effect of physical exercise at high altitudes (HA) on male reproductive system.

DESIGN:

Prospective study.

SETTING:

Andrology Clinic, University of L'Aquila, Italy.

PATIENT(S):

Seven male mountaineers involved in an expedition at 5,900 m.

INTERVENTION(S):

Semen analysis, sperm DNA fragmentation with flow cytometry, and reproductive hormone levels.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S):

Hormone levels were evaluated at sea level (SL) at baseline (SL-pre), after 22 days of exercise at HA (intermediate), and after 10 days upon reaching SL (SL-post). Sperm parameters, percentage of sperm with fragmented DNA, and body composition measures were evaluated at SL-pre and at SL-post.

RESULT(S):

A reduction of sperm concentration, of body mass index (BMI), of waist circumference, and of percentage of body fat was observed at SL-post compared with SL-pre values. Increased levels of FSH and PRL were observed at the intermediate point, and normalized at SL-post, whereas T was higher at SL-post compared with SL-pre levels.

CONCLUSION(S):

Physical exercise at HA is associated with a testicular dysfunction leading to a reduced sperm concentration probably through an altered spermiation. The improved body composition after physical exercise might explain the higher T levels observed after the expedition.

Copyright © 2011 American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
21561607
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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