Army busts impotence myth of Siachen posting
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.