Mobile phones and sperm – latest fertility news
Can a man’s mobile phone use affect his fertility?
A new study from Switzerland suggests that it can.
The study involved 2886 men aged 18 to 22 years who provided the researchers with information about their health and mobile phone use.
The authors found, not surprisingly, that the longer men spent using their phones, the lower their sperm concentration and numbers. ‘The median sperm concentration and TSC [total sperm count] were significantly higher in the group of men who did not use their phones more than once per week … compared with men using their phones >20 times per day’, the authors wrote.
In fact, men who used their mobile phones 20 or more times a day had a 21% lower sperm concentration and a 22% lower total sperm count than the men who used their phones least.
The authors did not find an association between mobile phone use and sperm motility or morphology, however.
The results have obvious implications for infertility which is now affecting approximately in every six couples.
Another interesting finding related to the lifestyle of the frequent and infrequent mobile phone users. The study found that ‘In general, a higher proportion of men who self-reported as being in excellent or good health consumed less medication before participation and had a higher educational level was observed in the group of low mobile phone users, compared with high-frequency users ... In addition, a higher proportion of frequent users smoked cigarettes and consumed alcohol.’
The researchers also found that the link between mobile phone use and lower sperm concentration reduced over time. They wrote, ‘This pattern is in line with the transition to new technologies, mainly from 2G to 3G and 4G, and the corresponding decrease in the phone’s output power. Furthermore, the increase in phone network coverage is expected to significantly decrease the RF-EMF output power of mobile phones in the future.’ Of course, that means that ambient exposures from mobile phone base stations will increase.
The authors believe that their study has advantages over previous research in this area. Firstly, they used a wider sample of volunteers; the questionnaire they answered included lifestyle factors; and subjects were asked to report their mobile phone use just prior to completing the questionnaire, which means that they were likely to recall this information accurately.
The authors suggested that their findings are representative of a narrow window of time. Further research is needed, they advised.
Rita Rahban, Alfred Senn, Serge Nef, and Martin Rӧӧsli, ‘Association between self-reported mobile phone use and the semen quality of young men’, Andrology, article in press.
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November 18, 2023