2
MIN READ
Is using laptops on our laps cooking our testes?
Keep ‘em cool.
Written by
Dan Cable
Medically reviewed by
Dan Cable
Last updated
June 17, 2024

Flexible working may sometimes mean working from the couch, and even from bed. Do laptops on our laps really cook our testes? Let’s dig in.

Cooking our testes

Heat stress is the primary risk factor, however, EMF is an emerging concern too.

The testes function optimally at 1-2°C below our core body temp — which is why they hang externally — and are sensitive to prolonged heat exposure impairing spermatogenesis (sperm production).

One study monitored scrotal temperature in young men sitting with a laptop balanced between their legs and found an approximate 3°C increase with 60 min of seated laptop computer use [1].

Scrotal overheating can result in oxidative stress, cell apoptosis, and compromised sperm DNA integrity. This ultimately leads to reduced sperm count and motility [2], and may affect testosterone levels.

Keep ‘em cool.

Testosterone disruption?

Sperm production is clearly temp sensitive but the jury is still out on testosterone production.

Quite a few animal studies suggest excess heat adversely impacts Leydig cells — which produce testosterone — but one study in humans did not show any impact on testosterone [3][4]. I think it's better to be safe than sorry for our balls.

Protecting our Crown Jewels

Worryingly, male sperm counts are tanking with a 50–60% drop between 1973 and 2011. Male infertility is a contributing factor in at least 50% of all couples experiencing infertility.

There are many drivers (microplastics, glyphosate, obesity, etc.), however, testicular overheating is a contributing factor [5] so let’s get stuck into some practical tips to avoid laptop heat stress on our baby batter.

  • Avoid the lap: A stand, desk or standing desk is always better than your lap.
  • Modify lap position: Keep legs apart at a 70° angle to reduce overheating [6]. On that note, have you ever thought about how you cross your legs? [7]
  • Invest in a laptop pad: Cooling pads and lap desks are designed to dissipate heat away from your body — I use a big book or a cushion when I need to be pragmatic.
  • Take frequent breaks: Take a 10-minute break every hour to improve temp regulation [8].
  • Wear loose clothing: Pivot to natural fibres and loose-fitting clothing to improve temp regulation; thankfully baggy pants are back.

Wi-Fi or Wi-Fry?

There's no need to tinfoil our balls but chronic exposure to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) — a type of non-ionising radiation from radio frequencies such as cellular and Wi-Fi networks — has been an emerging concern in our ever-digital world.

Some studies suggest EMR from cellular phones or Wi-Fi laptops may decrease sperm function and affect fertility [9][10][11][12]. However, the evidence is not conclusive.

Personally, I’m open to the possibility that EMR affects mitochondrial health [13][14] but I’m not yet convinced enough to make drastic lifestyle changes to manage exposure.

This post contains general information about health and wellness practices. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be treated as such. Please consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new health regimen. This information is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.

Flexible working may sometimes mean working from the couch, and even from bed. Do laptops on our laps really cook our testes? Let’s dig in.

Cooking our testes

Heat stress is the primary risk factor, however, EMF is an emerging concern too.

The testes function optimally at 1-2°C below our core body temp — which is why they hang externally — and are sensitive to prolonged heat exposure impairing spermatogenesis (sperm production).

One study monitored scrotal temperature in young men sitting with a laptop balanced between their legs and found an approximate 3°C increase with 60 min of seated laptop computer use [1].

Scrotal overheating can result in oxidative stress, cell apoptosis, and compromised sperm DNA integrity. This ultimately leads to reduced sperm count and motility [2], and may affect testosterone levels.

Keep ‘em cool.

Testosterone disruption?

Sperm production is clearly temp sensitive but the jury is still out on testosterone production.

Quite a few animal studies suggest excess heat adversely impacts Leydig cells — which produce testosterone — but one study in humans did not show any impact on testosterone [3][4]. I think it's better to be safe than sorry for our balls.

Protecting our Crown Jewels

Worryingly, male sperm counts are tanking with a 50–60% drop between 1973 and 2011. Male infertility is a contributing factor in at least 50% of all couples experiencing infertility.

There are many drivers (microplastics, glyphosate, obesity, etc.), however, testicular overheating is a contributing factor [5] so let’s get stuck into some practical tips to avoid laptop heat stress on our baby batter.

  • Avoid the lap: A stand, desk or standing desk is always better than your lap.
  • Modify lap position: Keep legs apart at a 70° angle to reduce overheating [6]. On that note, have you ever thought about how you cross your legs? [7]
  • Invest in a laptop pad: Cooling pads and lap desks are designed to dissipate heat away from your body — I use a big book or a cushion when I need to be pragmatic.
  • Take frequent breaks: Take a 10-minute break every hour to improve temp regulation [8].
  • Wear loose clothing: Pivot to natural fibres and loose-fitting clothing to improve temp regulation; thankfully baggy pants are back.

Wi-Fi or Wi-Fry?

There's no need to tinfoil our balls but chronic exposure to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) — a type of non-ionising radiation from radio frequencies such as cellular and Wi-Fi networks — has been an emerging concern in our ever-digital world.

Some studies suggest EMR from cellular phones or Wi-Fi laptops may decrease sperm function and affect fertility [9][10][11][12]. However, the evidence is not conclusive.

Personally, I’m open to the possibility that EMR affects mitochondrial health [13][14] but I’m not yet convinced enough to make drastic lifestyle changes to manage exposure.

This post contains general information about health and wellness practices. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be treated as such. Please consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new health regimen. This information is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.

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