Parenting · Pregnancy

How can heat affect fertility or pregnancy?

Young couple is relaxing in a hot tub

I’ve had many parents ask me about whether it is safe to practice hot yoga or use hot tubs when pregnant or trying to get pregnant. You’ve probably heard about the effects of extreme heat on the body such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but extreme heat can also affect your chances of getting pregnant.

Some ways heat can affect fertility or a pregnancy: 

  • Exposure to extreme heat can cause dizziness, headache, fainting, confusion and sometimes unconsciousness. Your body reacts this way because its ability to sweat shuts down and you become overheated.
  • Examples of extreme heat exposure includes practicing hot yoga in a room temperature of 35 – 40 degrees C or sitting in a hot tub or sauna for long periods.
  • Current research shows that extreme heat in pregnancy is linked to an increased risk of a birth defect affecting the baby’s brain and spine.
  • A rise in temperature can also affect the testicles and sperm. Testicles need to be cooler than the rest of the body to ensure healthy sperm.

Tips to reduce heat exposure:

  • When practicing yoga, choose yoga in a regular-temperature room.
  • If you use a hot tub or sauna, limit use to less than 10 minutes and sit away from the inlet that provides newly heated water. Avoid saunas or hot tubs during pregnancy.
  • Step out if you have any discomfort or start to feel any signs of extreme heat.
  • Wear loose underwear e.g. boxer shorts to help improve sperm count.
  • Place laptops on a desk or table so that the heat from the laptop is not directly on your lap.
  • If you sit for long periods or work in a hot environment, be sure to take breaks away from the heat source by walking, moving around and drinking cool water.

To help protect your fertility, consider reducing your exposure to heat.

For more information, speak with your health care provider or connect with a public health nurse via eChat or call 416-338-7600.

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