Testicle Temperature Impacts Fertility. Here's How to Control It.
Temperature plays an important role in your testicles' ability to produce sperm and testosterone. Prolonged exposure to higher-than-normal temperatures can compromise your sperm count and sperm motility (ability to move), while prolonged exposure to lower temperatures can increase your risk for injuries, including frostbite.
Keeping your testicles at the right temperature can help you maintain optimal testicular health and fertility. Learn more about the impact of temperature on fertility and how to properly care for your testicles in hot and cold temperatures.
How does the temperature of your testicles affect fertility?
Your sperm is stored in your testicles, which hang outside the body to keep sperm at a lower temperature than the rest of your body. Researchers have found that men who expose their testicles to heat for long periods tend to have problems with sperm count and motility because sperm are known to thrive in an environment with a cooler temperature.
In a 2019 study published in Translational Andrology and Urology, researchers evaluated the effects of increased temperature on testicle and sperm health in five healthy, fertile men between the ages of 25 and 35 who had fathered at least one child naturally. Each of the men wore specially designed underwear for 120 days that kept their testicles closer to their body and at a higher temperature than without the underwear. By the end of the study, the researchers concluded that a mild sustained increase in testicle temperature led to sperm abnormalities.
At what temperature can testicles stay healthy?
The temperature of your testicles should generally remain around 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius), which is 5.4 F (3 C) below your normal body temperature of 98.6 F (37 C). Sperm production occurs at 93.2 F, which is why keeping your testicles around this temperature is essential for maintaining healthy sperm and fertility.
Clothing increases the temperature of your testicles by a few degrees Fahrenheit (up to 1 C) compared with being naked, according to a 2007 study published in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. Wearing clothing and sitting down with your thighs apart can increase the temperature of your testicles to about 95 F (35 C), while sitting clothed with your thighs together can increase their temperature to 96.8 F (36 C) or higher. Therefore, the type of clothing you wear and the way you sit can end up having a significant impact on your overall sperm health.
Effective ways to regulate the temperature of your testicles
Practice these behaviors to regulate the temperature of your testicles and maintain high fertility rates:
- Limit the amount of time you spend in hot tubs and saunas, because long-term exposure to these high-temperature environments may decrease your fertility.
- Wear extra layers such as compression shorts or long johns under your pants if you plan on spending time in extremely low temperatures where frostbite can occur.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing in warm or hot temperatures to promote good airflow around your testicles and to prevent them from overheating.
- Take frequent breaks when swimming in pools or bodies of water with cold water temperatures.
- Maintain a healthy weight because excess fat and skin near your testicles may keep their temperature raised indefinitely. Consider exercising regularly, which can also help improve your sex life.
When you should see your doctor
Consult your doctor right away if your testicles feel cold and sweaty at the same time consistently. These symptoms could indicate that you have a thyroid disease or hyperhidrosis disorder, the latter of which causes abnormally excessive sweating. Treating these health conditions may help regulate the temperature of your testicles and reduce your risk of fertility problems.