Too hot for Sperms! Does external temperature affect your sperm health?
After a long tiring week, do you like to plop into the hot tub and spend an hour there with a glass of wine? Or do you just like standing under the hot shower contemplating about your life? Irrespective of what you prefer, did you know that these few minutes that the temperature of your body and scrotum rises could potentially harm the quality of your sperm?
Yes, your testicles have been designed to be placed outside the body in order to maintain collar temperatures!! Higher temperatures of even 1 degree, disturbs the sperm count, morphology, vitality and motility.
There are many ways through which the testicular temperature could rise especially due to the lifestyle that most of us lead. But, before we get into that, let us understand briefly how the sperm gets produced.
How Does Heat Effect on Your Sperm Health?
The scrotum is a bag made of skin that holds your testicles and hangs outside your body. The testicles produce the sperm that then gets stored in the epididymis (Structure that sits on top of the testes). It is in the epididymis that the sperm stays for about 72 days and matures to be used later.
So technically, the sperm that you ejaculate today must have been produced 3 months ago. Interesting, isn’t it? Coming back to the scrotum, it helps keep the testicles enclosed and helps regulate the scrotal temperature to a certain extent.
It is why the testicles hang when the temperature is warm and is pulled back slightly when the temperature falls. A muscle called the Cremaster does this job of pulling the testes closer to the body in cold conditions and pushing it further away in hot conditions.
Several studies have shown that when the scrotal temperature of men rose, their sperm count and quality were directly affected. However, if this increase lasts for short periods, the effect is not as severe as when it stays elevated for prolonged periods. In one study, the temperature of the scrotum was increased artificially, and the results showed that the sperm count during and shortly after the study was lower compared to before the study.
While several factors can elevate the temperature of your scrotum and testicles, one factor can be of particular concern, i.e., occupational heat exposure. This applies to those who work in high-temperature jobs like bakeries, garages, mines, etc. In one study, it was determined that occupational heat exposure had a significant effect on sperm motility and delayed conception considerably.
Most Common Sources of Heat
Did you just heave a sigh of relief since your job does not expose you to heat? Do you have a desk job where you love to get all your work done right from the comfort of your desk? Then the bad news is that you are at an equal or slightly lower risk.
Sitting in One Place
When you sit in one place, your legs are held close, your body is naturally warm and there is no place for the heat to escape or any air to pass. It raises the scrotal temperature and has the same effect that someone working in a mine may have.
This is why it is very important to get up from your desk and walk around every couple of hours so that your testicles get some air and the trapped heat escapes.
Another thing that you might want to be careful about is placing your laptop on your lap while you work. Your laptop emits heat, and even if you use a laptop pad, not all the heat that gets emitted gets stopped.
Laptop fans are also not very good at keeping the heat away. You might think that placing a pillow between your laptop and your lap might help, but the closeness of your thighs will again raise the scrotal temperature.
There are also some unproven claims that keeping your mobile phones in your front pocket can also have the same effect, but we believe it is the radiations from mobile phones that affect the sperm morphology and not the heat as such.
Hot Baths and Saunas
The next on our list is hot baths and saunas. While saunas might be the lesser of the two evils, both are harmful to your sperm health. In a sauna, when the steam reaches your scrotum, only then the temperature of your testicles rises.
However, when you sit with your bottom down in a hot tub, the entire area is submerged in hot water and immediately raises the temperature. While just an increase of 1-2 degrees can be dangerous for your sperm health, imagine what soaking it in hot water for an hour can do.
Now, did you know that your body heat could harm your sperms? Continuous fevers effect sperm health adversely. Since we are talking about body heat, we would also want you to reconsider the underwear that you wear.
In one study, respondents were made to wear specially designed underwear that pulled up their testicles and kept them closer to the body. During the study and slightly after, test results revealed lower sperm count and quality. This is why it is always advised to wear garments that allow space for your testicles to breathe.
Even when you ride a bicycle for a long time, the friction between the seat and the testicles can lead to heat being generated, which in turn raises the testicular temperature. Like getting up from your desk to let the air circulate, it is important to take breaks and stretch your legs so that the heat created due to the friction cools down.
Few Things That Avoid Effect of Heat On Your Sperm Health
So, the moral of the story is that you need to keep your testicles cool. Few things that you could do to ensure this is as follows:
- Refrain from using saunas and hot water baths or jacuzzis regularly.
- Wear breathable and comfortable underwear.
- Use a laptop table or keep your laptop on your desk.
- Keep your phone in your back pocket to be safe.
- Build your immune system so that you do not catch a cold or get a fever quite often.
- Try avoiding regular bicycling as much as possible, or else take frequent breaks if you and your partner are looking to conceive.
Apart from these, evaluate if you have other habits like smoking, alcoholism, or consume foods bad for sperm health. If you identify with these, then it might be time to make some permanent lifestyle changes.
Now ensuring that your testicles are cool is not something that will come to you naturally. You might have to be deliberate for the first few days, but eventually, your subconscious should be aware, and these small steps won’t feel like additional efforts anymore. So dear men, be aware and work towards your health and happiness.