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Cell Phones and Male Infertility: Another Study Finds a Link

Katlyn Joy |25, June 2014


Keep that cell phone out of your husband's pocket and off his belt. Another study finds a connection between carrying cell phones and sperm viability and sperm movement. This of course can create a barrier to fertility.

The study published in this month's Environment International was done by researchers at the University of Exeter. The research team looked at nearly 1,500 samples and reviewed the findings of ten studies for this particular study.

Exeter researchers were looking at three aspects of male fertility: sperm motility, which means how well sperm travels to the egg; sperm concentration which is concerned with quantity; and sperm viability or live sperm. The effects of sperm concentration were not clearly affected by cell phone exposure, but both sperm viability and motility were impacted. In control groups the sperm viability and motility were normal in 50% to 85% of the samples. Those with cell phone exposure experienced around an 8% drop in sperm movement and viability.

Dr. Fiona Mathews, of Biosciences at the University of Exeter, and director of this study commented, "Given the enormous scale of mobile phone use around the world, the potential role of this environmental exposure needs to be clarified. This study strongly suggests that being exposed to radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation from carrying mobiles in trouser pockets negatively affects sperm quality. This could be particularly important for men already on the borderline of infertility, and further research is required to determine the full clinical implications for the general population."

This is consistent with findings from other studies including one in 2011 published in the Journal of Andrology. This study found compelling evidence that cell phones have a negative effect on sperm.

A 2008 study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, looked at how placing a cell phone on the belt or in the pocket would impact sperm quality.

Ashok Agarwal, PhD, head of the Cleveland Clinic's andrology laboratory and the director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine at the Glickman Urologoical and Kidney Institute stated, "The Bluetooth devices, which many people are using these days because of health or safety concerns, may not be always so safe. There is a downside."

This study indicated why cell phones negatively affect sperm. Sperm exposed to radiofrequency electromagnetic waves have higher levels of free radicals which reduces sperm motility and viability.

Other tests have looked at how much time a man spends on the cell phone, comparing men who talk for an hour or more a day to men who only talk for 15 minutes a day at most. The talkers had a 17% reduction in sperm movement.

A 2005 study found that men who kept their phone close to their testicles, whether on the belt or pants pocket had an 11 percent drop in sperm motility.


Keep your cell phone far as possible from your crotch. Whether it's radiofrequency electromagnetic waves or just the extra heat a phone generates, the further it stays from your testicles, the better.

Other ways to keep sperm safe and healthy, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Keep your weight in healthy limits.
  • Practice safe sex.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Stay physically active.
  • Live a low-stress lifestyle.
  • Don't smoke cigarettes.
  • Avoid illicit drugs, recreational or hard drugs.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Keep your testicles cool, by avoiding tight underwear, long bike rides, hot tubs and saunas, and despite its name, don't set a laptop on your lap.
  • Be careful about toxins in your environment, particularly at work.
  • Know the side effects of your medications, including whether they may impact your sexual or reproductive health.
  • Only use fertility-friendly lubricants during sex.

About half of all infertility troubles can be linked to the male, so taking measures to protect sperm health is important. Keep that cell phone out of your pants pocket!

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