The Science

A Brief History of Scrotal Cooling

Since the mid-Sixties, scientists have been aware that scrotal cooling can improve male fertility, but no controlled tests were done until the mid-Eighties, when the advantages of cooling were first clinically shown. Now, with an increasing number of studies confirming its effectiveness, some of the world's best fertility specialists are beginning to prescribe icing. And doesn’t it just make good sense to directly treat the part of the body with the problem?

We know now that the testes of men with fertility problems tend to be naturally warmer by an average of over one degree Celsius, which is significant in this delicate science. We also know that if we can lower scrotal temperature on a consistent basis, fertility will improve.

The Research

More and more, studies are showing the effectiveness of scrotal cooling. Here’s a brief overview of a few studies (and here are a lot more if you’re interested):

• In a study by Mulcahy (1984), fifty men with reduced sperm motility applied ice packs to the scrotum at night. After treatment, both sperm density and sperm motility had at least doubled in 65 percent of the patients. Mulcahy JJ, ‘Scrotal hypothermia and the infertile man.’ Journal of Urology, 132/3 (1984), pp. 469-70

• Jung et al (2005) found a significant increase in both sperm concentration and total sperm count as a result of nocturnal scrotal cooling. For twelve weeks, twenty infertile men used a cooling technique every night, and significant change had taken place by eight weeks. Jung, A., Schill, W. -B., Schuppe, H. -C., ‘Improvement of semen quality by nocturnal scrotal cooling in oligozoospermic men with a history of testicular maldescent.’ International Journal of Andrology, vol. 28/2 (2005), pp. 93-98

• Zorgniotti and Sealfon (1988) measured scrotal temperatures in 300 sub fertile men and 30 control men. They found a statistically significant difference in temperature between the two groups (1.35 degrees Celsius), suggesting that ‘small intrinsic temperature increases may interfere with the ability of the testis to accommodate to environmental temperature stresses and so lead to abnormal semen and sub fertility.’ Zorgniotti, A. W., Sealfon, A. I., ‘Measurement of intrascrotal temperature in normal and subfertile men.’ Journals of Reproduction and Fertility, vol. 82 (1988), pp. 563-66

• Laven et al (1988) studied 56 men from infertile couples. The men were categorized into two groups named ‘cool workers/sleepers’ and ‘warm workers/sleepers’ according to whether or not there was evidence of extra scrotal insulation in their lifestyles. They found a greater number of good moving sperm in the ‘cool workers/sleepers’ group, both per ejaculation and per ml. Laven, J. S., Haverkorn, M. J., Bots, R.S., ‘Influence of occupation and living habits on semen quality in men (scrotal insulation and semen quality).’ Eur. J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol., vol. 29/2 (1988), pp. 137-41

Expected Results

Snowballs should help increase both sperm quality and quantity, and they should give you a better chance to conceive at minimal cost, but fertility science is complex, and you’ll also want to consult with a urologist, as well as your fertility specialist. Snowballs may end up being just a supplemental treatment for you. It can’t hurt, and it will likely help. At the same time, do your own research (see our FAQ section for more) and think for yourself. IUI and IVF didn’t work for us, and we met several world-class doctors before one suggested that scrotal temperature might be the problem. People said we were crazy to ice ourselves. We looked desperate to our friends. But in our case, cooling worked, and although every case is different, it is our fervent hope that it works for you, too.

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