Young men may be jeopardizing their chances of fatherhood by using laptops. Scientists say that the portable computers, when seated on a lap for even short periods of time, can raise scrotal temperatures and cause sperm production to plummet. “The reason the testes are not in the body is that heat is not good for testicular function,” says urologist Yefim Sheynkin, director of the Male Infertility and Microsurgery Center at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
In a study of 29 male volunteers, Sheynkin and his colleagues found that in as little as 20 minutes a laptop on the lap can raise temperatures inside the scrotum by nearly two degrees Fahrenheit. After an hour of computer use, temperatures rise by nearly six degrees. Any temperature change over two degrees will reduce sperm count markedly.
Continued laptop use could cause permanent damage. When laptops are used every day for many years, “there is no time between exposures to allow the testicular function to return to normal,” Sheynkin says. “The situation may be irreversible. The best recommendation is to not use a laptop in the laptop position. This is a preventable problem.”