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High Tech Gadgets and Fertility: The Facts

Katlyn Joy | 1, February 2011


Recent studies have linked the use of laptops and cellphones to higher temperatures and therefore concerns about fertility particularly over long term periods.

An important factor in male fertility is not allowing the testicles to become too heated. Typically the temperature of the scrotum is 6 degrees F. lower than a man's body temperature. At warmer temperatures, sperm production can be affected.

With laptops, the concern is when they are used directly on a man's lap instead of a table. However, the combination of a man seated and holding a laptop along with the heat generated by the computer is the concern. Studies found a rise in temperature of a degree. While that might not sound all that significant, it can have an effect and the issue still to be discovered is what prolonged regular use might mean to sperm quality and quantity. Howver, using a pillow or lap pad did not protect the testicles from rises in heat. For those with lower sperm counts or having difficulty conceiving, a degree may make a tremendous difference, as well.

Cellphones emit radiofrequency electromagnetic waves and while they have biological effects no studies have proven a cancer risk. However, a study has linked increasing cell use with decreasing sperm count, motility and viability. This study out of Cleveland Clinic depended on self-reported cell phone usage and looking at the sperm samples from men linking the amount of time on cell phones and the quality and quantity of sperm. Those who logged over four hours a day had significantly lower sperm quality and sperm counts.

Another study linked the habit of carrying a phone in the pocket to a lowered sperm count, and the difference it made was significant; 15% lowered sperm count compared to those who carry phone elsewhere or don't carry one at all. Cleveland Clinic fertility specialist Ashok Agarwal, the lead author of the study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, found that the electromagnetic waves emitted during talk mode causes high free radical levels in sperm. Free radicals are associated with diseases such as cancer and heart disease as well as reduced sperm motility and viability. In this study, the sperm exposed to a cell phone in "talk" mode with a radiation of 850 megahertz and at a distance consistent with a man carrying a phone in his pant's pocket found an increase of 85% of free radicals and a 7% decrease in sperm motility and an 11% decrease in live sperm.

For those who are trying to conceive, it's appears best to limit cellphone use, never carry it in your pocket and avoid prolonged sitting especially with a laptop. Use a laptop like a desktop model and avoid heated car seats, as they also raise scrotal temperatures.


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