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Laptops could turn up the heat...in your pants

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Rebecca Rillos | The Daily Wildcat Rebecca Rillos / Arizona Daily Wildcat


Men who sit with a computer on their lap could be increasing the temperature of their genital region, which could negatively affect sperm quality.



A study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility came to the conclusion after researchers hooked thermometers to the scrotums of 29 young men who balanced a laptop on their knees. They found that the men's scrotums overheated quickly, even with a lap pad under the computer.

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Dr. Mitchell Sokoloff, a professor of surgery and chief of the division of urology at the UA department of surgery, said that the study ""makes sense,"" and that infertility could be a possibility for those who sit with electronic machines right next to their testes.



The testicles' position outside of the body ensures that they stay a couple degrees cooler than inside of the body. Earlier research has shown that warming the scrotum more than 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit is enough to damage sperm.



Sokoloff said that if one were to stop using his computer on his lap for a long period of time, sperm could ""turn to normal."" Damage for those who use the warm computers on their laps, however, could be anywhere from three to six months, according to Sokoloff.



Testicle temperature still rose for the men who held their laptops on their knees, according to the study. When the men sat with their legs spread out, which was made possible by placing the computer on a large lap pad, they could keep their testicles cooler, but it still took fewer than 30 minutes for them to start to overheat.



The researchers also found that using a lap pad did not help cool the testicles, giving men a false sense of security, and Sokoloff agreed.



About one in six couples in the United States have trouble conceiving a child, and about half of the time the man is considered to be the problem, according to the American Urological Association.



Other hypotheses also suggest that outside influences, like wearing tight jeans or briefs, can harm the male genital region. Sokoloff said that it is a ""longstanding wives tale"" that briefs could lead to infertility.



Many factors can influence reproductive health, such as lifestyle, nutrition, drug use and general health.



Sokoloff added that men should ""absolutely"" be interested in maximizing fertility potential.



""This is the same argument (against) sitting in the hot tub every day,"" he said.



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