Cell Phones and Male Fertility
What’s buzzing in your partner’s pocket? If his cell phone is stored there, and you’re trying to get pregnant, he may want to find a new place to store that hotbed of infertility controversy. While the data is not 100% clear on either side, we are always advocates of erring on the side of caution.
Can Cell Phones Hurt Male Fertility?
First, let’s start with the research. A peer-reviewed study based out of Israel, and published in Reproductive BioMedicine Online, queried whether or not cell phone usage might be compromising male sperm quality. This question was based on the results of the group’s preliminary interest in seeing where men with poor sperm quality were storing their cell phones.
They obtained permission and the reproductive records for 100+ men who were patients at an infertility clinic. Researchers presented the men with questionnaires regarding their cell phone habits and usage. They found that certain behaviors did seem to correlate with sperm quantity/quality for a notable percentage of the men they surveyed. The most notable links between cell phone use and low sperm count seemed to exist for men who:
- Use their cell phone for more than one hour per day
- Use their cell phone while it is charging
- Hold or position their cell phone less than 50 cm (19.69 inches) from their groin (hence the pocket correlation, even though this particular statistic wasn’t specifically linking pocket cell phones and poor sperm count)
It was this last fact that really got the media hopping, creating clever headlines such as, “Cell phones cook men’s sperm…”
In truth, these researchers were not making any blanket statements. They’ve simply delved into potential reasons why male infertility, particular low sperm count and poor sperm quality, are responsible for roughly 30% to 40% of all couples diagnosed with infertility. It is not sure exactly why cell phones would cause a problem. It could be the heat generated by phones affects the internal testicle temperature – especially when a phone is stored in the pocket while in use or while charging; it could also be that the radio waves cellphones receive/transmit affect our bodies in more than we are currently aware of. Nobody is sure just yet.
Given what we don’t know about cell phone technology and its effects on fertility, we feel it’s worth it to play it safe if you are trying to have a baby, and your conception plans aren’t going quite like you planned.
Tips for Producing As Much Healthy Sperm as Possible
While pointing fingers won’t really solve anything, it’s worth noting that environmental toxins and exposure radiofrequency energy (the type your body absorbs when it’s close to a cell phone), etc., have exponentially increased in the post-war, hyper-tech era we live in. Therefore, it’s not a bad idea to minimize the 21st century things in your life to see if it helps. In the case of healthy sperm, we recommend:
- Re-thinking how you use your cell phone. Since the verdict is still out on cell phones and fertility, it makes sense to use caution. Try to use Bluetooth technology whenever you can, minimize cell phone use if there’s a landline available, avoid using the phone while its charging if you can and – of course – think twice about storing it close to your groin just in case the heat factor makes a difference. Keep your eye on the fertility headlines to keep abreast of the latest and greatest published research.
- Eating pesticide/herbicide free foods. We would say to focus on an organic diet, but labels can be complicated. Instead, focus on consuming foods that are grown and/or raised without the use of pesticides, herbicides and other known endocrine disruptors that have a negative effect on fertility.
- Not smoking. Okay, so smoking has been a favorite pastime for much longer than the post-war-technology-rich life, but tobacco products didn’t used to have all the chemicals and additives that most of them contain now. Plus, we’ve learned a little about lung, throat, mouth, stomach, etc., health since then. Smoking is associated with all kinds of negative side effects – including infertility – in both men and women. Quit now and your future sperm (and children) will thank you.
- Losing weight. As long as you’re quitting unhealthy habits and getting more conscious about what you eat, throw a little exercise in there and lose your unwanted weight. There is a direct correlation between healthy BMI and fertility for both men and women. Overweight and obese males have a higher risk of low sperm count and/or sperm that are a bit sluggish when they swim.
While it isn’t our attention to jump on any hype bandwagons, we do feel that it’s worth it to pay attention to the research headlines and do all you can to limit potential male fertility factors.
image: victor at picjumbo.com
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RRC has over 200 years of combined experience. As a leading reproductive health, infertility, and in-vitro fertilization (or IVF) center based in Kansas City, we're proud to have the highest level of expertise available to our patients.