The effect of heat on sperm quality


This summer we suffered more than one heat wave and, in these circumstances, we have probably asked ourselves if the high temperature can affect the sperm quality and its reproductive capacity.

The heat does have an effect, but you have to bear in mind some factors.

Various studies have demonstrated that determinate professions that involve working in a high temperature environment can cause a decrease in the production of spermatozoa and, in consequence, fertility.

But what happens when an increase of temperature takes place in a short period of time?

A study published last month in the Asian Journal of Andrology answers this question. The research was carried out on 20 Chinese volunteers between 22 and 45 years of age, they were subjected to testicular heating by means of a 43 °C water bath, for 10 sessions of 30 minutes.

The results showed a decrease in the total number of spermatozoa, concentration and motility. An increase in the percentage of spermatozoa with DNA fragmentation, as a consequence of the heat, was also detected.

The lowest values were reached on week 6 of the treatment. However, the sperm tests carried out on week 16 demonstrated the reversion of the process, as the participants in the study showed similar values to those registered at the start of the treatment.

In summary: could a heat wave like the one we went through deteriorate the sperm? The answer is yes, but only if we were exposed to this intense heat for a long period of time.

That would normally not be the case, because we try to find different ways to cool down (i.e. air conditioning, light clothing or a swim in the pool) and also because our organism has its own system of self-regulation.

In addition, the consequences would be reversible, therefore there is no reason to be worried even though the heat wave experienced this summer.