Men who visit saunas may be damaging their sperm, Italian researchers have warned.
They found that healthy men who regularly used them had a lower sperm count - and the damage could last several months.
In the study, Finnish men in their 30s who had normal sperm counts were monitored.
They all spent 15 minutes in a sauna twice a week for three months, after which their sperm counts were tested.
The researchers discovered that the men's sperm counts were lower at the end of the study than at the beginning - and only six months later did they return to normal.
Dr Andrew Kramer, a urologist at the University of Maryland Medical Centre told the website LiveScience that heat was to blame, as it affects sperm production.
The researchers found that during the sauna sessions, the temperature of the men's scrotums increased by three degrees Celsius (5.4 F).
'The testicles hang down from the body in men to cool them,' added Dr Kramer. He added this may be why 'men with undescended testicles can have impaired sperm product and fertility'.
Men who used the saunas also had differences in their sperm's DNA, the researchers noted.
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