Could saddling up on your bike affect your sperm count?
Ireland is in the midst of a cycling craze but here are ways male cyclists can protect their most precious assets.
Ireland is in the grip of a cycling craze, with many men with ambitions to be fathers taking to the saddle.
So how can they protect their fertility among the many myths that surround the sport?
To father a child, at least 30pc of sperm should have a normal shape. The usual sequence of training, resting and recovery can disintegrate sperm only if elite athletes become very tired, which can lead to lower sperm count.
There is no evidence of dramatically lower rates of conception among cyclists. But cyclists concerned about their fertility can do a few things to minimise the risks.
The body inside cycling shorts can become quite hot when cycling. It would do no harm to consider using saddles with cut-outs in them, or using a wider-than-normal saddle to help things cool down a little.
The next thing to think about is impact on the body. Sudden braking doesn't help, so no slamming of the brakes if possible - this might mean choosing a quieter route with fewer obstructions. Mountain bikers need to take extra care to minimise trauma to the testicles, as their sport can be particularly taxing on the body.
All cyclists could benefit from wearing padded shorts for protection. There is no scientific data suggesting that cycling in close-fitting garments is a cause of infertility in men.
Cyclists who travel short distances may not be at great risk for the sterility problems linked to biking. It may only be those elite cyclists who ride more than 180 miles per week.
Health & Living