Not too long from now, men will scurry out to the car on the first chilly morning of autumn, jump inside, and enjoy the warm embrace of heated leather seats. But that warm feeling might have an unpleasant side effect—lowering one’s sperm count.
German scientists studied 30 men (subscription required), measuring their scrotal temperature after they had sat in a car seat for 90 minutes. Those who sat in heated seats measured an average of about 99.1 degrees Fahrenheit, up from about 98 degrees for men in plain old unheated seats. The scrotum is located outside the body because sperm production requires a lower temperature, and even a slight raise like the one in this study could interfere with that, the researchers say.
That puts sperm in a precarious position. Studies in recent years have warned of other heat-related hazards to one’s sperm count, like actually using a laptop computer on your lap. Laptops are just one member of the ever-growing list of sperm enemies that include, stress, exposure to heavy metal or environmental toxins, smoking, bicycling, and maybe obesity, though it seems scientists aren’t sure about that one.
Researchers have known for a while that lengthy drives, whether in heated seats or not, are on that list because they could raise a man’s scrotal temperatures, meaning that your daily commute is hurting more than the environment. Now, it appears, the little extra comfort of a warmed-up chair isn’t doing your sperm count any favors, either.