Trying to have a baby? Maybe it would help if the aspiring dad placed a little distance between him and his mobile phone. A recent study from the Technion University in Israel shows that having a cell phone nearby, like in a pants’ pocket, and even using it for an hour could significantly lower a man’s sperm count.
Researchers analyzed data taken from 100 men who were attending a fertility clinic for a year. They found that 47 percent of the men who kept their phones in their pants' pocket had significantly lower sperm counts as opposed to 11 percent in the general population.
These weren’t the only men who had their sperms “cooked” by their phones. Those who kept their phones near their pillow or on a bedside table also had lowered sperm counts, as well as men who talked on their phones while it was charging.
“We analyzed the amount of active swimming sperm and the quality and found that it had been reduced. We think this is being caused by a heating of the sperm from the phone and by electromagnetic activity,” Martha Dirnfield, a researcher from the study, told The Telegraph.
Published in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine, the study isn’t the first to link fertility in men and mobile phones. “A 2008 study found that men with the highest cell phone usage (more than four hours per day) had significantly lower sperm counts, motility rates and morphology (normal shapes),” urologist Dr. Paul Shin told Health.com.
A 2014 study lead by Fiona Mathews from the University of Exeter in England agrees that the low-level electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile devices may have something to do with it. They found that exposure lead to a lowered sperm motility of 8% and lowered sperm viability of 9%.
There is still no conclusive evidence, however, that shows mobiles phones as a culprit to lower sperm count and quality but if you want to be extra careful, Shin advises carrying cell phones in briefcases or bags rather than pockets.
A more definitive cause for a lowered sperm count is heat. The testicles are found outside the body, rather than inside like other organs, for a reason. It’s to keep them cool because the core body temperature is too high for proper sperm production and function. At 36.67°C and higher, sperm production is disrupted and the result of which can drag on for months, fertility specialist Dr. Hal Danzer told Health.com.
It’s why men in tropical climates have a lower sperm count on average compared to men living in cooler climates. Well, so much for basking in the summer sun.
Sources: Feb. 22, 2016. "Mobile phones are 'cooking' men's sperm" (telegraph.co.uk) July 15, 2015. "Low sperm count" (mayoclinic.org) June 10, 2014. "Guys, Your Smartphone Is Hurting Your Sperm" (time.com) Undated. "Trying to Get Pregnant? 10 Proven Sperm Killers" (health.com) Sept. 12, 2010. "Male fertility myths" (londonspermbank.com)