Effect of Hot Water on Testicles

Dec 8, 2014 0 Comments in General Medical Posts by
Effect of Hot Water on Testicles

Effect of Hot Water on Testicles

Testicles are the primary male reproductive organs that are required for a number of sexual and reproductive functions. For example, hormones such as testosterone secreted by this organ is required for the maintenance of normal libido, appearance/ maintenance of primary and secondary sexual characteristics, and adequate sperm production. Needless to say that impaired secretion or serum levels of this vital hormone can definitely alter the normal reproductive activities. Likewise, functional testicles are needed for spermatogenesis (production and release of sperms), to facilitate a healthy pregnancy. Research and clinical data indicates that the process of spermatogenesis is very sensitive to physical and environmental forces, especially temperature and trauma.

Association of Hot Water and Testicular Health

Reasons for Testicular Pain ImageAny agent that increases the temperature inside the testicles (radiations, hot water, ultrasound waves etc.) can compromise the process of spermatogenesis and may lead to impaired fecundity and infertility. In United States, approximately 7.5% males visit their primary care physician each year with complaints of impaired fertility or difficulty in impregnating their partners (1). This corresponds to about 5 million males; however, only 18% are actually diagnosed with an organic reproductive dysfunction (whereas remaining are advised lifestyle modification and improvements to maintain normal spermatogenesis).

Investigators believe that excessive exposure to heat in the form of hot bathing water can significantly affect the testicular functions and may compromise spermatogenesis. This is mainly because Nature has designed human body in a very calculated yet intricate fashion. Most hormones and mediators require strict physical and biochemical environment for the optimal functioning of organs and glands.

Under normal physiological conditions, the internal temperature of testicles is 33-34 degree C (as opposed to normal body temperature of 37 degree C). This is achieved by:

  • Testicles are located away from the body which helps in minimizing the chances of heat transfer from the body
  • Testicles are enclosed in scrotum – a fibromuscular bag that is loosely hanging from the body-wall; thereby offering better ventilation and heat transfer.

How Hot is Very Hot?

It has been statistically proved that exposure to temperatures over 34 °C is hazardous for testicular health. For optimal spermatogenesis, the testicles should not be exposed to temperatures more than 36 °C.

According to an experimental study reported in the peer reviewed journal Contraception (2), excessive exposure to heat can delay the conception process in animal subjects (independent of serum testosterone concentration). As part of the experiment that was conducted on 300 rats with similar weight and other characteristics, investigators used different mediums and durations of heat exposure to ascertain the intensity of adverse effects on the spermatogenesis. The results suggested that exposure to hot water (for 15 minutes at 60 °C) delays the process of conception (or impregnantion) for up to 30-35 days. Likewise, exposure to infra-red radiations at 60 °C results in the pregnancy delay for a period of 60–75 days. The report concluded that severe and prolong exposure to heat may cause permanent damage to the sperm making machinery and may even lead to sterilization in extreme cases.

Other Factors That May Also Influence Testicular Health

low testosterone in Men Image

Investigators at Santa Inês Rams (3) conducted a study to explore the effects of hot climatic conditions on testicular health. The results suggested that all measures of spermatogenic process are affected if scrotum-testicular thermoregulation fails (this includes, sperm morphology or appearance, motility of sperms, live spermatozoids percentage etc.)

For optimal testicular health:

  • Do not wear brief or tight under-garments that exposes your testicles to higher temperatures. Sexually active males should consider loose boxes to maintain healthy spermatogenesis
  • Avoid tight pants or jeans for long hours (especially in hot humid environment)
  • Avoid long hours of sitting or inactivity
  • Avoid steam baths, saunas and hot streams for similar reasons
  • Cell phones are also known to adversely affect the health of testicles and therefore cellular use should be minimized (4)

Other important factors include, obesity, drug abuse (especially marijuana and opioids), excessive smoking and chronic alcohol consumption. It is also important to realize that geographical and climatic conditions can also influence the spermatogenesis process. Therefore if you are living in extremely hot and humid conditions, make sure to adopt healthy cooling strategies to maintain normal reproductive functions.


  1. http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/
  2. Fahim, M. S., Fahim, Z., Der, R., Hall, D. G., & Harman, J. (1975). Heat in male contraception (hot water 60 C, infrared, microwave, and ultrasound). Contraception, 11(5), 549-562. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0010782475901092
  3. Oliveira, M. E. F., Teixeira, P. P. M., Silva, J. C. B., Feliciano, M. A. R., Nociti, R. P., Oliveira, L. G., … & de Sousa Rodrigues, L. F. (2014). Effect of Scrotal Insulation Associated to Environmental Discomfort on Andrologic Characteristics in Santa Inês Rams. Journal of Animal Science Advances, 4(10).
  4. Barazani, Y., Katz, B. F., Nagler, H. M., & Stember, D. S. (2014). Lifestyle, Environment, and Male Reproductive Health. Urologic Clinics of North America, 41(1), 55-66.