Army busts im­po­tence myth of Si­achen post­ing

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Rahul Singh rahul.singh@hin­dus­tan­

NEW DELHI: A new study by sci­en­tists and army doc­tors has nailed a long-stand­ing be­lief among many sol­diers that high­alti­tude post­ing in places such as Si­achen leads to im­po­tence. It also found blood clots to be the dead­li­est threat to sol­diers serv­ing in Si­achen, the world’s cold­est bat­tle­ground.

The find­ings are based on re­search car­ried out over more than four years in­volv­ing the med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion and feed­back of about 700 sol­diers, who have served on the glacier.

For long, the im­po­tence myth has left many sol­diers anx­ious about a post­ing in Si­achen, where tem­per­a­tures can plunge below -50 de­grees Cel­sius. Usu­ally, a sol­dier serves about three months on the glacier where some posts are lo­cated at an al­ti­tude of more than 21,000 feet.

“The preva­lence of im­po­tence was not sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent from sol­diers in the plains. This should put to rest long­stand­ing con­cerns about Si­achen caus­ing sex­ual dys­func­tion,” said Lt Gen Velu Nair, one of the mil­i­tary’s top doc­tors who con­cep­tu­alised and led the re­search.

His team con­sisted of 15 army doc­tors and three sci­en­tists from the De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The sam­ple for the study was first ex­am­ined in 2012 and con­tin­ues to be ob­served for health risks four years on. The sol­diers were ex­am­ined in five phases: at sea level, 15,000 feet, 16,000-21,000 feet, again at 15,000 feet and then back in the plains.

The re­search found back­ing from pri­vate doc­tors as well. “High al­ti­tude and cold weather does not cause im­po­tence. It’s a base­less ru­mour that was around in Si­achen even when I served there around 30 years ago” Dr Sub­hash V Kot­wal, se­nior con­sul­tant urol­ogy, Si­taram Bhar­tia Re­search In­sti­tute and Artemis Hos­pi­tal told HT.

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