Do Cell Phones Affect Male Infertility?
Cell Phones and Sperm: There's a New Kid on the Block
You are probably aware that both female and male infertility factors can contribute to a couple's inability to get pregnant. You have probably heard that the most common causes of male infertility are problems with the quality of sperm. And you may know that sperm quality is comprised of factors such as: sperm count, sperm motility, sperm shape (also called sperm morphology), and sperm viability.
However, you may not yet be aware that when it comes to sperm factors and male infertility, there's 'a new kid on the block.' Indeed, reports now abound about the potential negative effects cell phones may have on male infertility. Numerous studies are reporting correlations between cell phone use and decreased sperm parameters, citing causes such as radiofrequency electromagnetic waves (EMW) emitted by cell phones, proximity of cell phones to the waist area in men, and the duration of cell phone use.
How Do Cell Phones Affect Sperm?
Cell phones operate at various frequencies known as radiofrequency electromagnetic waves (EMW). These frequencies differ from country to country. In the United States, for example, most cell phones operate between 900-1900MHz, while in other countries the rates are somewhat lower. There is a growing concern today about exposure to this radiofrequency energy and the negative effects in may have on human health, including male infertility. This concern mirrors the concern over links between laptops and male infertility due to the heat generated.
The higher the EMW, the more radiant energy a cell phone or device carries, which can be absorbed by human tissues. SAR, the "specific absorption rate", is the measurement used to assess the amount of exposure from devices located near the body. In the United States, SAR values range from 0.12 to 1.6 watts per kg body weight, depending on the cell phone model, with the maximum SAR value allowed peaking at 1.6 W/kg.
Numerous studies are now reporting a link between cell phone use and low sperm counts, reduced sperm motility, and abnormal sperm morphology. The duration of time cell phones are used appears to be a possible contributing factor, as well as the proximity of cell phones to men's waist and testicle areas. Thus in theory, men who attach their cell phones to their waist may be unwittingly exposing this area of their body to EMW.
Although the evidence is as yet inconclusive and more research is necessary to determine the significance of cell phone damage to male sperm and male infertility, men who are trying to conceive might want to pay attention and perhaps limit their cell phone use during while they are trying to get pregnant. Alternatively, keeping cell phones away from the waist and pant pocket areas, and avoiding clipping them to their belts may decrease EMW exposure and provide some measure of protection.