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Cold Plunge for Improved Fertility?

A cold plunge, ice bath, cold water immersion – whatever you like to call it, the trend of getting chilly in the name of health and wellness has taken the world by storm over the last couple of years. But could this practice help support male fertility? Here we’re plunging into the world of cold watery therapy and exploring its impact on sperm health.


What is cold water therapy?

From Wim Hoff to Joe Wicks, some of the leading faces in men’s health have brought cold water therapy – or taking a cold plunge – to the mainstream over the last few years. But what does the practice actually involve?

Well, this is one of those cases when it does exactly what it says on the tin (or ice bath). Cold plunging involves submerging yourself in cold water. This can be done by jumping in an ice bath or plunge pool and submerging yourself up to the neck, or some people might decide to get the same health benefits by swimming in cold sea water or a swimming pool. When it comes to how cold the water needs to be, some studies suggest that you only really start to see the benefits when water is 11–15ºC (51–59ºF) and you soak for at least 11 minutes.

Whilst this practice has ancient origins (the Greeks used to love a bit of cryotherapy) it has become increasingly popular in modern times with athletes or men simply looking to optimise their health.


What are the benefits of cold plunging?

Ice bath evangelists like Wim Hoff make all sorts of claims about the power of a cold plunge, but some of the most solid benefits of the practice seem to be:


Can cold plunging help with male fertility issues?

With the long list of potential health benefits, it’s understandable that men may see cold plunging as something that could help their fertility, but is it worth adding the practice to your preconception plan?

Well, to talk about this, we first need a reminder of the impact of heat on sperm health.

Heat and sperm health

The importance of keeping testicles cool is well-documented in male fertility studies. Sperm production is temperature dependent with testicles working their best at a temperature of 2–4°C below the general body temperature – which is why your balls hang low outside of your body!

Numerous external factors – such as posture, clothing, lifestyle, fever and season of the year – can affect the temperature of the scrotum and may have an impact on sperm quality. Some research even indicates that sperm health is better in the Winter and Spring months when the temperatures are lower.
Some studies have indicated that heat damage can affect sperm health parameters including motility and count. In fact, each 1°C increase in testicular temperature leads to a 14% decrease in spermatogenesis (sperm production).
Men trying to conceive will often try many ways to keep their testicles cool and improve their sperm health – including wearing underwear with ice packs in them – so could cold water immersion offer another avenue for reducing heat damage?


Cold plunge and sperm health

Whilst logically, plunging your balls into cold water will definitely keep them cool, there is currently little evidence to prove that this is an effective practice for improving your sperm health. In fact, some studies indicate that cold water immersion could actually negatively impact another crucial aspect of male fertility – your testosterone levels. A 1991 study found that cold water therapy decreased testosterone by 10%. In more recent times, a 2007 study indicated that even brief exposure to cold can lower testosterone levels.

However, there is some research to indicate that reducing your exposure to hot water – in the shower or a hot tub – could help your swimmers out. In one study, researchers analysed guys who regularly took hot baths or used hot tubs to unwind for more than 30 minutes a week. During the study, they stopped exposing themselves to these hot water practices and saw a nearly 500% increase in their sperm count!


The best ways to support your sperm health

So cold plunges may not hold the key to unlocking optimum fertility, but if you are keen to protect your sperm from heat damage, there are a few things you can do.

  • Make sure to keep technology – like mobile phones and laptops – away from your crotch
  • Avoid saunas and hot tubs
  • Wear looser boxer shorts so your testicles aren’t as restricted
  • Try to avoid sitting down all day – if your job involves sitting at a desk or driving for long periods, try to get out for a walk a couple of times a day
  • Ejaculating regularly so that your swimmers aren’t hanging out in your testicles for too long


It’s also important to support your sperm health in other ways including:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet full of whole foods and vegetables
  • Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding toxins like cigarette smoke and harmful endocrine-disrupting chemicals
  • Taking supplements that have been specifically created to support male fertility – our ExSeed Multi and ExSeed Omega can help with that!


If you’re keen to understand your sperm health but aren’t ready for a trip to the fertility clinic, our completely at-home sperm test is a great place to start!

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