Sperm production is at its best when the testicles are several degrees cooler than your body temperature. That’s why they hang outside the body in the scrotum (the pouch of skin that contains the testicles and a network of blood vessels and nerves).
But what if your testicles are too cold?
Read on to learn how cold is too cold, how the testicles and scrotum react to changing temperatures, and how best to warm them up.
Your testicles (testes) are oval-shaped organs made up primarily of coiled tubes called seminiferous tubules. Sperm production takes place within those tubes.
Ideally, sperm production occurs at around 93.2ºF (34ºC). This is 5.4ºF (3ºC) below normal body temperature of 98.6ºF (37ºC ).
But your testicles can get too cold for good sperm production, too. Cold temperatures cause the scrotum and testicles to retreat up toward the body.
A hot shower or high temperatures that cause your body temperature to increase will in turn cause your testicles to hang lower.
However, when the temperature gets too hot, the quality of sperm can be harmed. In particular, sperm count and sperm motility (the ability of sperm to swim and reach an egg to fertilize) can decline.
If hot temperatures reduce sperm count, then it makes sense that cooling your testicles will have the opposite effect, right?
Increasing sperm count by using ice packs or more sophisticated cooling equipment around the testicles has been tried by plenty of guys through the years.
Medical researchers have also investigated this approach to help infertile couples. Small studies from
Read this article for 10 healthy ways to boost male fertility and sperm count.
Because the testicles hang outside the body, they’re more vulnerable to injury than your internal organs. Like any other part of the body exposed to the elements, the testicles are susceptible to frostbite or hypothermia if the temperatures drop too low.
As the air temperature falls to 5ºF (–15ºC) or colder, the risk of hypothermia to exposed skin increases significantly.
Even covered areas of the body are at risk. And because the body “knows” that the function of the heart and other internal organs is more important to survival than the fingers and toes, hypothermia tends to move from the extremities toward the trunk.
That means if your thighs are starting to experience frostbite, your balls may be next.
Symptoms of frostbite include:
- a tingling sensation in the skin
- skin turning red or white
- waxy-looking skin
Though there’s little medical research on what happens to human testicles and sperm production at dangerously low temperatures, farmers and veterinarians have reported that bulls with testicular frostbite experience reduced sperm count and poor testicular function.
Warming up cold testicles can be done safely and easily. Here are some tips:
- Sitting. When your testicles are in close contact with your thighs, there’s less opportunity for air to reach them and disperse heat. Sitting is a natural way to warm them.
- Clothing. Layers of clothing can help trap heat, but avoid tight underwear and pants, as they can drive up the temperature too much.
- Hot shower or sauna. A hot sauna will warm up your entire body. But remember, as the temperature of your testicles rises to your normal body temperature and higher, the quality of your sperm will temporarily decline.
To prevent cold testicles, consider these tips:
- Dress appropriately for the weather. If you’re going to be outside in cold temperatures, a pair of long johns or sports tights under your pants is a good idea.
- Take breaks from the cold water of a swimming pool, beach, or other body of water.
- Follow the instructions carefully if using specially designed underwear or other products meant to cool your balls to improve your sperm count. Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures could injure the skin of your scrotum and possibly harm sperm production.
If you have cold and sweaty balls, you may have a medical condition causing those symptoms, or it may be time for a lifestyle change. Common causes include:
- Hyperhidrosis disorder. This disorder results in excessive sweating. It’s sometimes triggered by an underlying condition.
- Thyroid disease. The thyroid produces a key hormone that regulates your metabolism.
- Tight clothing. Tight underwear or pants, especially those made from material that doesn’t “breathe” very well, will keep air from reaching the scrotum. Maintaining air flow keeps your testicles sweat-free.
Tips for healthy testicles
- Do a monthly testicular self-exam. Gently use your thumb and forefinger to check for lumps or tender areas that may indicate testicular cancer, cysts, or other health concerns. Doing so in a warm shower that causes the testicles to drop will make the check easier.
- Practice good hygiene. Bathe regularly and wear clean underwear and clothes to avoid infections.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing. This helps keep the temperature around your testicles lower for better sperm and testosterone production.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity raises your risk of poor testicular health and function. Regular exercise and a healthy diet is the best way to maintain a healthy weight.
- Practice safe sex. Use protection when you have sexual intercourse to protect against sexually transmitted infections, commonly called sexually transmitted diseases.
Your testicles like the temperature a little cooler than your normal body temperature. But be careful about trying to cool your testicles too much.
Avoiding tight underwear and pants, as well as long soaks in a hot tub, can help you lower the risk of a low sperm count caused by overheating.
If you have questions about your testicular health and fertility, talk with a urologist, a doctor who specializes in this area of the body.