McKinnon CJ, Joglekar DJ, Hatch EE, Rothman KJ, Wesselink AK, Willis MD, Wang TR, Mikkelsen EM, Eisenberg ML, Wise LA. Male personal heat exposures and fecundability: a preconception cohort study. Andrology. 2022 Nov;10(8):1511-21. doi: 10.1111/andr.13242

BACKGROUND: Several studies indicate adverse effects of selected heat exposures on semen quality, but few studies have directly evaluated fertility as an endpoint.

OBJECTIVE: We evaluated prospectively the association between male heat exposures and fecundability, the per-cycle probability of conception.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We analyzed data from 3041 couples residing in the United States or Canada who enrolled in a prospective preconception cohort study (2013-2021). At enrollment, males reported on several heat-related exposures, such as use of saunas, hot baths, seat heaters, and tight-fitting underwear. Pregnancy status was updated on female follow-up questionnaires every 8 weeks until conception or a censoring event (initiation of fertility treatment, cessation of pregnancy attempts, withdrawal, loss to follow-up, or 12 cycles), whichever came first. We used proportional probabilities regression models to estimate fecundability ratios (FR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between heat exposures and fecundability, mutually adjusting for heat exposures and other potential confounders.

RESULTS: We observed small inverse associations for hot bath/tub use (≥3 vs. 0 times/month: FR = 0.87, 95% CI: 0.70-1.07) and fever in the 3 months before baseline (FR = 0.94, 95% CI: 0.79-1.12; one cycle of follow-up: FR = 0.84, 95% CI: 0.64-1.11). Little association was found for sauna use, hours of laptop use on one's lap, seat heater use, time spent sitting, and use of tight-fitting underwear. Based on a cumulative heat metric, FRs for 1, 2, 3, and ≥4 versus 0 heat exposures were 0.99 (95% CI: 0.87-1.12), 1.03 (95% CI: 0.89-1.19), 0.94 (95% CI: 0.74-1.19), and 0.77 (95% CI: 0.50-1.17), respectively. Associations were stronger among men aged ≥30 years (≥4 vs. 0 heat exposures: FR = 0.60, 95% CI: 0.34-1.04).

CONCLUSION: Male use of hot tubs/baths and fever showed weak inverse associations with fecundability. Cumulative exposure to multiple heat sources was associated with a moderate reduction in fecundability, particularly among males aged ≥30 years.

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