Long-distance drivers, especially drivers of articulated vehicles such as trucks and trailers, who sit at the wheel for long hours are exposing their scrotum to heat and putting themselves at risk of infertility, physicians say.
The regular exposure of scrotum to heat from vehicle engines, the physicians noted, predisposes drivers to have low sperm quality (low sperm count) and infertility.
According to the experts, men whose occupation is long-distance driving usually have fertility issues.
They also noted that such fertility issues have been linked to low sperm quality, while attributing the cause to regular exposure of their scrotum to heat.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in an exclusive interview, one of the experts and a Consultant Family Physician at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Dr. Ibrahim Kuranga-Suleiman, said such risk could be avoided if the drivers observe at least 30 minutes break after every three to four hours of their long trips.
Kuranga-Suleiman who is the Head of Department, Family Medicine Department, at the university, explained, “Not that long-distance drivers are impotent, they can make love, but they usually have issues with the quality of their sperm.
“The quality of their sperm may not be good and healthy like that of the men who are not long-distance drivers because their scrotum and testes, also known as testicles, are under heat at all times.
“The heat from the engine of the trailers or trucks that they are driving is always burning their scrotum and testes. So, the viability of their sperm will be low.
“These are some of the observations that have been made over the years that people that are constantly at the wheel and are sitting on a hot engine, like truck and trailer drivers, for long hours have problem with their sperm. So, when this heat is burning the scrotum, it will be affecting sperm production.”
According to the John Hopkins Medicine online portal, the scrotum is a bag of skin that holds and helps to protect the testicles, while the testes are two small organs that are found inside the scrotum
“The testicles make sperm and, to do this, the temperature of the testicles needs to be cooler than the inside of the body. This is why the scrotum is located outside of the body.
“The testes are responsible for making sperm and are also involved in producing a hormone called testosterone. Testosterone is an important hormone during male development and maturation for developing muscles, deepening the voice, and growing body hair,” it said.
Kuranga-Suleiman noted that men whose scrotum is under heat at all times will have challenges getting their wives pregnant because sperm production requires a cool environment for it to be viable.
“When you are having your testes being under heat all the time, the quality of the sperm will be reduced than when it is not under heat. If you have fertility-challenged couples that are coming to your clinic, you have to find out whether the husband is a long-distance driver or not.
“Most times, when you asked them to change their profession, their fertility will return to normal. That is the observation we have seen from our practice,” the expert said.
On how long-distance drivers could reduce their risk of infertility, Kuranga-Suleiman asked them to observe regular breaks whenever they embark on a long-distance journey.
“One of the things we recommend is that if you are a long-distance driver and you are travelling for a 24-hour journey, travel three to four hours, observe a break and relax for at least 30 minutes and then continue your journey.
“You can take a shower in-between your journey; that will help your body to cool down and will also improve your sperm viability.
“So, don’t go on a long-distance journey at a stretch that will make the car engine and your body so hot and denature your sperm cells and makes it difficult for you to get your wife pregnant,” he said.
Experts say in males, the prominent causes of infertility include sperm count abnormalities, azoospermia, low sperm count, impotence and testicular disease, among others.
On his part, an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano State, Dr. LabaranAliyu advised men with low sperm count, who indulge in self-medication to desist from the act and seek help from experts.
The gynaecologist noted that for a man with a low sperm count to be able to impregnate a woman, he must get proper medical examination and treatment from a specialist.
Aliyu also explained, “low sperm count has a lot of causes. It may be that the man is not producing the sperm cells from the testicles. That is a problem.”
He stated that men with low sperm count who are indulging in self-medication by consuming carrot, pap, and cucumber to boost their fertility are wasting time.
“The consumption of cucumber, carrot, and pap cannot improve fertility in men with low sperm count. The combination does not improve fertility just like that,” he said.
The gynaecologist observed that there are different causes of low sperm count in men that require different medical interventions.
According to the World Health Organisation, estimates suggest that between 48 million couples and 186 million individuals live with infertility globally.
“In the male reproductive system, infertility is most commonly caused by problems in the ejection of semen, absence or low levels of sperm, or abnormal shape (morphology) and movement (motility) of the sperm,” says WHO.
SOURCE: THE PUNCH