Hot tubs, medication use, pesticides, and male infertility

Trying to conceive? You may have heard many myths and truths about how the environment in which you live can affect your fertility. Learn the truth about how high temperatures, medication use, and pesticides affect male infertility.

Hot tubs and saunas may be a nice comfortable place for relaxing after a stressful day at work, but they're not good for your swimming buddies. Hot tubs, saunas, and whirlpool baths can increase the temperature where it matters the most – your testes. This rise in temperature can affect the production and quality of sperm. Although the heat effect on sperm is usually temporary, it is usually best to avoid exposing your testes to hot temperatures while you're trying to conceive. You can take hot showers, though, since your testes aren't submerged in the water.

You should also worry about body temperature when you are ill. Body temperature may increase due to illnesses that cause prolonged fever. High fever has been shown to affect sperm production 2 to 3 months after the illness, which is how long it takes for sperm to mature.

Boxers or briefs? Preventing male infertility may ultimately decide this age-old question. In theory, if you're trying to conceive you should avoid wearing tight-fitting underwear or "tighty whities." Tight-fitting underwear tends to hold the testes closer to the body, which may impede sperm production because of the higher temperature. Although the evidence for this is not very strong, there really is no harm in making the switch to loose-fitting underwear if it may increase your chances of conceiving.

Medication use is another factor to consider. Certain medications may affect the production, movement, and ejaculation of sperm. Many of these medications are used to treat medical conditions such as arthritis, cancer, depression, digestive problems, gout, high blood pressure, infections, and pain. For example, some medications used to treat high blood pressure or mood disorders may cause retrograde ejaculation, one of the causes for male infertility. If you have questions about your medications or are concerned about whether the medication you're taking may be affecting your fertility, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Don't stop taking your medication without first consulting your doctor.

Pesticide use is another environmental factor that may affect male infertility. Exposure to environmental toxins, such as pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides, can decrease sperm production and quality. Some of these environmental toxins have even been linked to testicular cancer. Long-term exposure to heavy metals such as lead and arsenic may also cause infertility.

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