Couples who are trying to conceive are usually preoccupied with the female partner’s health and fertility. That is understandable since getting pregnant depends on the woman’s health and knowing when she is fertile to a large extent. Ovulation calendars, folic acid, looking out for pregnancy signs and symptoms should not take up all your time and effort though. It still takes two to tango and if you want to make it work, you should make sure your husband or boyfriend is avoiding overheating testicles and inadvertently “frying” his swimmers.
The male anatomy is pretty curios in itself, isn’t it? The purpose of the penis is clear, but have you ever wondered why a man’s testicles hang outside his body rather than being inside? Well, it is because sperm production — which takes place inside the testicles — happens at a lower temperature than the body’s general temperature. Sperm production happens when the testicles are between two and four degrees Celsius below normal body temperature.
What regulates the temperature within the testicles? The scrotum, which contracts and expands depending on the temperature, facilitates heat transfer. It can only do so much though, and if the testicles are exposed to too much heat damage to sperm production can still occur.
“Sure, being too hot isn’t good — but the damage isn’t very significant, is it?” If this basically sums up your opinion, think again:
- A study of professional drivers showed that men who were frequently exposed too much heat in the testicular region were 1.8 times more likely to have sperm morphology (in other words, shape) problems.
- These same men were 1.8 times (see the connection to the previous figure?) more likely to have been trying to conceive without success.
- Another study compared workers who worked in normal temperatures to those who were frequently exposed to high temperatures (oven workers in the ceramic field). They were more likely to be childless than other workers at 7.6 percent compared to 1.1 percent.
- A whopping 23 percent of oven operators reported fertility struggles, compared to 12 percent of other men.
- Yet another study suggested that bakers had a higher risk of infertility.
What men who are trying to conceive should avoid
So, frequent heat exposure in a professional environment can cause overheating testicles and lead to a higher risk of infertility. But even men who don’t work with high temperatures have heat sources that they should steer clear of to ensure optimal sperm production. What leads to overheating testicles?
Wearing tight, synthetic underwear should be avoided, and the same holds true for bicycle pants — or cycling itself, for that matter. The friction can generate heat that is detrimental to sperm production.
Hot baths, hot tubs, sauna, Turkish steam rooms and the like should obviously be avoided, and particularly on a regular basis. Then, there is that nemesis of the modern man: working with a laptop in their, well, lap. Yes, studies have been done and confirmed that placing your computer too close to your testicles is a bad idea. Of course, “nerd jokes” have been circulating around the web: “A laptop is the only thing that will ever get anywhere near his scrotum in any case”.
Preconception care for men
Of course, making sure that the testicles remain at the appropriate temperature is not the only thing a man who would like to get his partner pregnant should do. A lifestyle that is healthy in general will also promote male fertility. They should also ensure that they are eating a healthy and balanced diet, exercise regularly, and should avoid alcohol (as much as possible) and smoking.
Folic acid is known as a supplement that helps prevent neural tube defects. It also increases fertility in both sexes, so if the woman in a couple is taking folic acid supplements, her partner should feel free to join in and take folic acid.