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General Medical Questions
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Question : I am wondering about the side effects of daily baths in very hot water for men. I had a semen analysis and was shocked to discover it contains no sperm. I enjoy hot baths. Could this be the cause?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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October 11, 2012
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A:

For sperm to develop normally, the testicles need to remain at a constant temperature that is several degrees lower than elsewhere in the body. This is probably one reason why the testicles hang outside of the body. This is in contrast to women’s ovaries, which are an equivalent reproductive organ. This need for a constant temperature is also why a man’s scrotum contracts (shrinks) when exposed to very cold water.

For many years, scientists have known that exposure to high heat – as found in saunas or hot tubs – may lower sperm counts. But it should not block sperm production completely.

From your description, it sounds like you have “azoospermia.” This means that no sperm are found in your semen. It’s highly unlikely that hot baths alone would cause this condition. Rather, azoospermia usually happens due to one of the following reasons:

  • The testicles did not develop normally
  • The testicles have been damaged, for example by certain infections (mumps) or exposure to chemotherapy or radiation
  • There is a blockage in the sperm transport tubules

Most men who take hot baths or saunas will not have problems with fertility. However, if a man and his partner are having difficulty conceiving a child, it may be wise to avoid situations where the testicles are exposed to high heat.

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