Hot summer sites spark spermageddon in tradies’ trousers

Jarrod Brown
By Jarrod Brown
4 Min Read

Scorching summer job sites and tight tradie shorts almost doubles men’s chances of a low sperm count, says a new research study.

After tracking 818 men exposed to extreme heat – or when a day’s average temperature crossed 29.8C – over three months, researchers in Singapore found participants who clocked in even a few hours under the scorching sun had a shocking 46 per cent higher chance of a low sperm count. 

The risk of a low sperm concentration (the total count of sperm) also shot up by 40 per cent, with the ‘little swimmers’ reportedly acting more sluggish than usual.

The scary fertility stats come after Aussie tradies were forced to swelter through the country’s third-hottest summer on record. Between December and February, Weatherzone says worksites clocked in an average daytime high of 32.6C around the nation, which was beaten only by the 2021-22 summer’s 33.3C average. 

Australia also recorded seven days above 40C in February, beating Perth’s record of six such days set in January 2022. 

Dr Samuel Gunther, a research fellow at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine who was involved in the study, said young men on the tools, in particular, should play it safe in the sun.

“Conventionally, findings suggest that sperm quality decreases as one ages, but what we found in this study was that it was men in their [prime] reproductive time between 25 and 35 who were the most impacted by heat,” he said during a media briefing.

“So just because you’re a young male, don’t think you’re invincible, and don’t think you’re not also vulnerable to these impacts.

“Moving forward, the climate is going to get hotter. And that is also something that we need to bear in mind in family planning.”

Can you protect your swimmers from the sun?

In Australia, the rapidly heating climate could become a major concern for couples looking to have a baby in the coming years. 

One in nine couples between 20-49 experience fertility problems, with the fertility rate declining 0.28 per cent from 2023.

When trying to conceive, experts estimate the man is solely responsible in about 20 per cent of cases and is a contributing factor in another 30 per cent to 40 per cent of all infertility cases.

While it might be almost impossible for most tradies to stay out of the sun completely during Australia’s hottest months, there are some steps you can take to protect your swimmers from sweat. 

According to the Department of Health, tradies should steer clear of saunas and hot baths to avoid unnecessary exposure to heat and, if possible, sleep in cooler air-conditioned environments. 

Tradies on the tools should also swap the tighty whities for a pair of boxers to improve airflow, cut out unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking and invest in breathable workwear on-site. 

Safe Work Australia recommends that when the mercury is rising on-site, it’s important tradies stay hydrated with cool water and take their mandatory breaks when needed. If the on-site temp hits 35°or 29° and 75 per cent humidity, tradies have every right to put down tools and stop work.

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Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.