Does Infrared Sauna Affect Sperm (and Male Fertility?)

More men across the globe are searching for ways to increase their sperm count. In the quest to have children, it’s important to understand which activities help and hurt male fertility and if an infrared sauna plays a role.

An infrared sauna affects male fertility by reducing sperm count, limiting mobility, and changing cell DNA. Temperatures above 98°F and below 90°F create an undesirable environment for sperm, thus reducing their concentration. To increase male fertility, consume foods rich in selenium and folic acid and stop using the sauna until you conceive. 

Continue reading to find out if infrared saunas are bad for male fertility and how they impact sperm health. Additionally, we’ll cover some practical advice for improving a man’s sperm count.

Are infrared saunas bad for male fertility?

There’s been some talk regarding the negative effects visiting an infrared sauna can have on male fertility. Is this true?

According to the most recent research, habitually using the sauna is bad for male fertility and can reduce a man’s sperm count for an extended period of time. One 2009 study showed that just one 20-minute sauna session caused otherwise healthy men’s sperm population to decrease up to a week after exposure. 

Heat was shown to induce swelling of the sperm’s plasma membrane and increase the number of underdeveloped cells. Ultimately, this created disorganization as far as mobility, which directly correlates to how capable sperm are of reaching an egg for fertilization.

Another study that followed the effects of sauna exposure on sperm movement characteristics and other semen parameters also supports this evidence. Researchers found that 8 healthy males (with a mean age of 30 and a normal sperm count) displayed a 50% decrease in viable sperm around a month after sauna exposure.

Furthermore, the velocity at which their existing sperm traveled significantly declined. This is substantial evidence to deduce that men should avoid using the sauna for at least a month prior to trying to conceive.

In short, yes – using an infrared sauna can have a negative impact on sperm and male fertility. The heat exposure damages cells and creates disorganization in the sperm population, ultimately reducing their ability to reach an egg for fertilization.

Steps to take in order to increase male fertility and sperm health include exercising, eating a diet rich in antioxidants, and avoiding smoking and drinking.

If you plan on conceiving in the near future, it’s best to stop visiting the sauna until you get pregnant!

Sperm health

Let’s dive into how heat impacts sperm health.

The average increase in scrotal temperature was 2.4°C during sauna exposure and 1.7°C after using the sauna. Medical professionals explain that sperm is sensitive to high temperatures and will gradually decline if exposed to heat frequently.

In a 2015 research paper, scientists looked at how high testicular temperatures of roughly 106°F impact semen characteristics. During a three-month study timeline, 19 healthy males participated in an experiment that involved 40 minutes of testicular heating for two days. 

What they found is that heat reduced sperm concentration from 73 M/mL to 42 M/mL and sperm motility from 71% to 25%. What’s even more shocking is that removing the heat reversed these effects over time.

What temperature kills sperm? 

What’s the ideal climate for sperm?

Sperm cells are healthiest at around 94°F and can survive between 90°F and 98°F without an issue. Temperatures above this range will start to kill off otherwise perfectly normal sperm and create abnormal cells. 

For the reasons listed above, it’s important to steer clear of excessively hot environments while you’re trying to get pregnant (and yes, that means hot tubs and jacuzzi baths, too!).

Infrared saunas and sperm count

As men age, their sperm count decreases. Does an infrared sauna speed that process up?

According to a study from the Official Journal of the College of Family Physicians of Canada, far-infrared saunas heat a man’s scrotum past a healthy temperature. This can cause reversible damage to sperm counts and movement. 

While most acute impacts resolve themselves with time, repeated infrared sauna exposure can result in long-term damage.

It’s necessary to relieve testicular heat stress early on in order to preserve male fertility as you age.

How long does it take for sperm to recover from the sauna? 

The answer to this question depends on how frequently you visit an infrared sauna and how long you stay inside.

Generally speaking, the more time you’ve spent inside a sauna, the longer it takes your sperm count to recover. Using a one-time exposure study as an example, it took around 5 weeks for the men’s sperm count to fully return to normal levels. 

If you visit an infrared sauna a few times per week and have done so for years, there’s no telling how long it will take for your standard sperm count to come back. Most doctors advise that it could take up to 6 months for your army to repopulate.

Practical advice for improving male fertility and sperm count

Besides avoiding the sauna, what else can you do to improve your sperm count?

Here are the best ways to help support and improve male fertility:

  • Limit sexual intercourse 
  • Eat the proper vitamins and minerals
  • Stop smoking and drinking
  • Keep your testicles cool
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get adequate, high-quality sleep

These practices will improve the likelihood of you and your significant other getting pregnant soon.

Limit sexual intercourse

While it’s important to have sex during the time of ovulation, too much can reduce your sperm count unnecessarily.

Research shows that a period of abstinence of around 5 days can help men accumulate more sperm cells. Additionally, having sex 2 times per week will keep your numbers up without impacting your fertility.

Knowing a woman’s ovulation cycle will also assist in this area. Conceiving involves the cooperation of two people!

Eat the proper vitamins and minerals

Consuming a balanced diet is important for maintaining all aspects of your life- including sperm health.

Antioxidants that help with keeping sperm levels active are:

  • Selenium – Whole grains, dairy products, chicken, and beef are good sources of selenium. If you’re vegan or aren’t currently incorporating any of these into your diet, it’s time to start eating more nuts and cereals. 
  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C is another sperm-booster. Oranges, strawberries, and broccoli are all a great way to get more vitamin C in your diet.
  • Folic acid – High-folate foods include any type of leafy greens – think lettuce, spinach, and asparagus. These aren’t the most satisfying foods, but they do help your sperm cells stay healthy. Check out one of these 50 tasty recipes to incorporate more leafy greens into your meals!
  • Vitamin E – Vitamin E is predominantly found in oily nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies. Add peanut butter to your morning smoothies to get this antioxidant in. 
  • Zinc – Last but not least, zinc is pivotal. It specifically protects sperm cells from damage caused by toxins. Meats and legumes are very high in zinc.

Eating foods that include these nutrients will not only improve your sperm count but also ensure that the cells being produced are viable and healthy.

Stop smoking and drinking

We hate to break it to you, but the Saturday night beers and weekly cigarettes aren’t doing you any favors when it comes to having a baby.

Heavy drinking lowers testosterone, changes gonadotropin release (which impacts sperm production), and alters the shape, size, and movement of healthy sperm.

Even more damaging, smoking reduces sperm concentration and movement. Smoking tobacco or marijuana while trying to conceive can cause sperm DNA damage and increase the risk of abnormal cells.

Halting both of these activities will drastically increase male fertility.

Keep your testicles cool

As per the information above, you already know how high temperatures can negatively impact sperm health.

Avoid using hot tubs and saunas, taking frequent warm baths, or showering for too long.

All of these activities will heat up a man’s scrotum and create an undesirable environment for sperm production. 

Exercise regularly

Working out consistently is one of the single biggest health determining factors. Even just going for a brisk walk a few times a week can dramatically reduce disease occurrence.

Exercising regularly reduces inflammation and increases testosterone production in men. Both of these will, in turn, increase male fertility.

There’s no definitive research that says which type of exercise is best for sperm health, although any form of body movement is better than nothing!

Get adequate, high-quality sleep

You are nothing without enough sleep, and neither is your sperm.

Lack of sleep creates an array of health concerns that include a reduction in the production of healthy sperm. To keep levels up, try to get at least 8 hours every night.

Winding down before bed by putting electronic devices away, at least an hour beforehand, can help with sleep quality. Additionally, certain sleep-tracking devices allow for some insight into how well you’re resting each night.