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Int J Sports Med. 1994 Oct;15(7):383-91.

Gonadal hormones and semen quality in male runners. A volume threshold effect of endurance training.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington 06030.


Eleven high mileage runners (HR) (108.0 +/- 4.5 km.wk-1), 9 moderate mileage runners (MR) (54.2 +/- 3.7 km.wk-1) and 10 sedentary controls (SC) of similar age (28.3 +/- 1.5 yr) were studied to evaluate the effects of volume of endurance training on reproductive function in male runners. Levels of reproductive, adrenal and thyroid hormones were measured during a 1-hr period of serial blood sampling (q20 min) and urinary excretion of 24-hr luteinizing hormone (uLH) was determined on two separate days. Semen exams and sperm penetration of standard cervical mucus (Penetrak) were performed 2-5 times. Levels of total testosterone (TT) and free testosterone (FT) were significantly lower in HR (15.3 +/- 1.3 nmol.l-1 and 60.2 +/- 5.1 pmol.l-1) compared to MR (21.4 +/- 1.6 nmol.l-1 and 86.0 +/- 6.1 pmol.l-1) and SC (19.5 +/- 0.9 nmol.l-1 and 75.9 +/- 3.6 pmol.l-1). No differences (p > 0.05) were found in uLH, serum LH, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and prolactin (PRL) among the three groups. No other hormonal differences (p > 0.05) were observed among the groups. Total motile sperm count and density were lower (p < 0.05) in HR than SC. Decreased (p < 0.0006) sperm motility and an increased (p < 0.004) population of immature sperm and round cells were observed in HR compared to MR and SC. Sperm penetration of bovine cervical mucus was also decreased (p < 0.024) in HR compared to SC. Volume of training, defined by km.wk-1 run, was significantly correlated to sperm motility, density and number of round cells.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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