Posted on March 20th, 2013 by Chris in news, Your Body, tags: Finnish sauna, hazards, health, Human Reproduction, Infertility, Reproductive Health, sauna, sperm, Steam room, University of Padova
Human Reproduction (journal) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Keeping your nether regions cool is one of those pieces of men’s health advice that’s been drilled into your head since 8th grade health class. We’ve been told heat can affect sperm production, and in some cases cause infertility. Sitting the wrong way, using a laptop, and even choosing the wrong type of underwear can cause infertility. But what happens when you deliberately expose your “boys” to high temperatures in a sauna, steam room or hot tub?
In the April 2013 journal Human Reproduction, a team from the Department of Molecular Medicine at the University of Padova in Italy looked at this problem in detail.
They recruited ten healthy volunteers with normal sperm production and had them use a Finnish Sauna set to 80-90°C (176-194°F) for 15 minutes.
After three months of sauna bathing, the researchers found that the test subjects had significantly fewer healthy sperm than they had during the study. For some parameters, the number of “healthy” sperm decreased by 22%.
The good news is that after six months without sauna use, all of the subjects returned to the same levels of healthy sperm they had prior to the study, so no lasting effects were found.
The authors do caution that the test was only performed with men with otherwise healthy sperm production, and a small sample size. They would like to see this repeated on a larger scale, with some men with abnormal sperm production to see if any new long term effects can be found.
From a practical standpoint, men who are trying to start families may want to avoid the sauna for several months. However, looking at overall birth rates, births per woman, and infant mortality Finland appears to be at a similar or better level than most other industrialized nations.
The abstract can be read on Pub Med. The full text requires a journal subscription.
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Posted on February 11th, 2013 by Chris in news, Saunas, tags: Competition, Estonia, Estonian, European Sauna Marathon, Marathon, Otepää, sauna, Sauna Marathon
Saturday, February 10, 2013 saw 654 people clad in bathing suits, slippers and wool hats negotiate Estonia’s snowy landscape in the 4th annual European Sauna Marathon in the town of Otepää, Estonia. The top team took 22 saunas, plunged into 8 ice holes and soaked in 5 hot tubs in just under 3 hours. The marathon is part road rally, part endurance challenge, and part party.
The race is run in teams of four, and takes the teams to a number of public sauna establishments in the area surrounding the town of Otepää. At each sauna, every team member needs to spend 3 minutes in the steam, completely submerge themself in each of the hot tubs, and one team member must fully submerge themselves in every ice hole. Event staff monitor each station, and teams are given penalty minutes for not completing a station. Each team traveled between the saunas in their own cars, with the local police adding their own penalties for teams that sped.
The top three teams won gift certificates to the local sauna businesses. Additional special prizes were given out for best costume, youngest team and several other things Google Translate wasn’t able to tell us.
The saunas that the teams had to visit during the competition were also part of the contest. This year, the favorite sauna was Saunamaratoonlased, upsetting the previous champion the Sokka smoke sauna bath.
The Otepää website has lots of data (in Estonian, of course), including the rules, the saunas where the competition took place, the results, and an extensive photo gallery from the event.
If you are interested in competing in a future Sauna Marathon, you can visit the Sauna Marathon page on the Otepää town website. This year, registration opened about a month before the event.
Hat tip to Estonian Public Broadcasting.
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In a dark and hot room with a pile of red-hot stones in one corner, plenty of basins and bowls of water of varying temperatures in another, and the humans nude on raised benches closer to these than to the door, their privates against the slatted benches and darkness below, the revenge of the gnome can be terrible, surprising and memorable indeed. (Photo credit: Cremo)
While in a sauna, it is always important to behave respectfully. While sharing a public sauna with others, this is obvious. But even while in your own private sauna you should be respectful, lest you incur the wrath of your sauna gnome.
The blog, Masks of Eris, brought this to our attention in their post “Romancing the Sauna Gnome.” If you are a sauna enthusiast, this short piece is a must-read. Sauna gnomes can take up residence in any inviting sauna. Kept happy, they will help keep the sauna neat and tidy. Should you anger them, the consequences can be dire.
For instance, take a look at the consequences of being overzealous when pouring water on the stove:
Too much water means the sauna will become unbearably hot and steam-filled; the gnome will become reddened and angered, and as you stumble out, unable to take the heat, the gnome will stick out a leg and you will crash head-first against the door. Half the sounds you’ll hear in your ears will be the gnome’s harsh laughter; the rest will be you, screaming. Then when you’ve had a break and return to the benches, the gnome will have had time to place hand-made thumbtacks on them; and when you take the next break, a birch demon has drunk your beers and urinated them full, while the gnome has been on the opposite edge of the roof, loudly saying to itself: “Gee! I’m not guarding the beers! Sure hope nobody will drink them and urinate them full because I’m so old and decrepit I know I wouldn’t notice!” — birch demons are not the sharpest twigs in the forest, but eventually they take a hint.
Other infractions of sauna etiquette can bring about punishment from the sauna gnome. As the author notes, if you contemplate the potential in “a dark and hot room with a pile of red-hot stones in one corner, plenty of basins and bowls of water of varying temperatures in another, and the humans nude on raised benches closer to these than to the door, their privates against the slatted benches and darkness below, the revenge of the gnome can be terrible, surprising and memorable indeed.”
Among the worst of these, is if the sauna gnome decides to feed your towels to a moose, since “once a moose in your neighborhood get the taste of cloth, your washing line isn’t safe.”
So be reverent in the sauna. Make sure you give your sauna gnome ample warning before you throw a ladle of water on the rocks, and… um… keep your sauna gnome satisfied if he or she shows you some signs. (You’ll have to read the original article to understand that.)
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