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Review
, 31 (10), 932-8

Effects of Endurance Exercise on the Reproductive System of Men: The "Exercise-Hypogonadal Male Condition"

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Review

Effects of Endurance Exercise on the Reproductive System of Men: The "Exercise-Hypogonadal Male Condition"

A C Hackney. J Endocrinol Invest.

Abstract

An increasing number of investigative research studies point to participation in endurance exercise training as having significant detrimental effects upon reproductive hormonal profiles in men. Specifically, men chronically exposed to this type of exercise training exhibit persistently reduced basal (resting-state) free and total testosterone concentrations without concurrent LH elevations. Men displaying these symptoms have been deemed to exhibit the "exercise-hypogonadal male condition". The exact physiological mechanism inducing the reduction of testosterone in these men is currently unclear, but is postulated to be a dysfunction (or perhaps a readjustment) within the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular regulatory axis. The potential exists for the reduced testosterone concentrations within exercise-hypogonadal men to be disruptive and detrimental to some anabolic-androgenic testosterone- dependent physiological processes. Findings on this point are limited, but do suggest spermatogenesis problems may exist in some cases. Alternatively, reductions in circulating testosterone concentrations could have cardiovascular protective effects and thus be beneficial to the health of these men. Present evidence suggests the exercise-hypogonadal condition is limited to men who have been persistently involved in chronic endurance exercise training for an extended period time (i.e., years), and it is not a highly prevalent occurrence (although, a thorough epidemiological investigation on the topic is lacking in the literature). Many questions regarding the male reproductive endocrine adaptive process to exercise training still remain unanswered, necessitating the need for much further investigation on the topic, especially with respect to the exercise-hypogonadal condition.

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