For men and their swimmers, the modern world is filled with dangers, including chemicals and sources of heat. If you’re exposed to chemicals or heat, at work or elsewhere, get informed about how you can make sure your mates down below are well protected, so they can swim like Grant Hackett going for gold at the Games.
Men at work: Am I at risk?
If you work around heat, radiation or chemicals (or are prone to getting hit in the family jewels), then yes, you’re at risk of having a low sperm count or low quality sperm. So bakers, ceramic oven operators and furnace workers, heads up! (No pun intended).
Drivers beware too, because long periods of sitting on your unmentionables is associated with a greater risk of infertility. Sitting on your testicles is like keeping them in a natural oven – and sperm don’t like heat.
Pesticides are also on sperm’s black list. It’s no wonder really, because they are designed to kill little wriggling things. They do their job all too well in this instance.
War, what is it good for? Not sperm
For men who have been involved in warzones, there is also a higher risk of infertility. One study reported that Gulf War veterans were 41% more likely to be infertile than soldiers who were not deployed during that war. The researchers put this down to impaired ‘spermatogenesis’ (that’s medical lingo for sperm production) caused by toxic exposure during the war.
Radiotherapy or chemotherapy used for cancer treatment are also toxic to sperm. Some men cryopreserve (freeze) their sperm before they have chemo or radiotherapy so they can use assisted reproduction techniques to have kids afterwards. If you freeze it now, you’ll at least have the option later.
Sperm-a-lot: Defending the castle
If you face occupational sperm hazards, you may consider switching to a less risky occupation. If you can’t swap jobs, try to limit your exposure and be aware of the risks. You can also avoid very hot baths and too-tight briefs, and of course, try not to cop too many hits in your man-bags (although we suspect you try to avoid that anyhow).
Swimming for gold
Don’t wait until it’s too late to get your sperm tested or make changes in your life to ensure a healthy sperm count and strong, healthy sperm that can swim the distance. The world is a rough place; imagine being a tiny little swimmer, just trying to survive. Help them out by avoiding heat and chemicals, and talk to your GP about what other measures you may be able to take.
For more information, seeSperm and Environmental Factors.
For more information on sperm health and male fertility, see Sperm Health.
For more information on workplace health, including office ergonomics series, useful tips on avoiding injuries in the workplace and costs on the workforce, see Workplace Health.