What Do Men Want? Muscle Infestation Is Fraught With Posterity, Scientists Say
Scientists have discovered a curious evolutionary paradox: men who make an effort to look more attractive and athletic often jeopardize their ability to acquire offspring.
The use of steroids to maintain an athletic figure or anti-baldness can adversely affect fertility. This paradox is called Mossman-Pacey - after the scientists who first described it.
“I drew attention to the appearance of some men who came to us with complaints about reproductive function: they were hefty, pumped up guys,” says Dr. James Mossman, now an employee of Brown University in the United States.
At that time, he was a graduate student in Sheffield and was working on a dissertation on the abuse of anabolic steroids.
“Such men often resort to steroids in order to build muscle and look like a superman,” the scientist says. “But in fact, they drive themselves into an evolutionary dead end, as their number of living sperm tends to zero.”
Anabolic steroids mimic the effects of the hormone testosterone in the male body, and therefore they are used to increase muscle mass in professional wrestlers.
“The irony is that men spend hours on exercise machines to find attractiveness in the eyes of women, but in fact their ability to conceive is only reduced,” adds Professor Allan Pacey from the University of Sheffield.
Anabolic steroids act on the pituitary gland, giving the impression that the seminal glands are too intense.
Therefore, the pituitary gland reduces the production of two hormones - follitropine FSH and the luteinizing hormone LH, which are most actively involved in sperm production.
Researchers note that a similar mechanism is observed in men who use drugs to combat baldness.
The drug finasteride changes the behavior of testosterone in the body and can reduce the rate of hair loss, however, side effects of its use include impotence and decreased fertility.
"This will surprise you, but I would say that up to 90% of men who take steroids become infertile," says Professor Pacey.
Dr. Mossman believes that these drugs that exploit male vanity actually lead to an evolutionary dead end, as they prevent gene transfer to the next generation.
In his opinion, such behavior, when the desire to attract the opposite sex jeopardizes the ability to reproduce, is unique in the animal world and is inherent only to man.
“The irony is ironic, but those men who have fertility problems need to seriously think about it,” says Professor Pacey.
“Clinics usually keep silent about this, and it doesn’t reach young people that this can be a problem. So a little useful information can save them from a lot of mental suffering afterwards,” the scientist concludes.