Is Your Phone Killing Your Sperm?
Pretty much everyone has a mobile phone these days, and the preferred place to carry these phones for many men is their front pockets. A little known fact is that these phone’s emit energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). This radiation is a low-level radiofrequency (RF) in the rage of 800 to 2200 MHz. This energy is actually absorbed by the human body and has been associated with some potential adverse effects including an impairment of human fertility. The mobile phone industry has long recognized this exposure and publishes warnings (which I am sure very few of us read) in their user manuals. The US FCC also has published standards on acceptable levels of exposure. These standards vary worldwide and there is no uniform consensus on what is safe – though it is clear that the less exposure the better.
Approximately 14% of couples have difficulty conceiving and almost half of these couples have sperm issues as a contributing factor. A recent review published in the Journal Environmental International analyzed the results of 10 previous reports on this topic. This analysis of over 1400 samples looking at both in vitro and in vivo data concluded that mobile phone exposure negatively effects sperm quality.
Potential mechanisms for this effect may be divided into either thermal or non-thermal injury. In order for the testicles to function properly, they must be 2 degrees cooler than body temperature. The absorption of RF energy by tissues can result in rapid heating (much like your microwave) which could certainly be detrimental to sperm production. Non-thermal effects include the possible generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) (See post from 11/26/14) or changes to critical protein configuration or function which may lead to DNA damage.
What can you do to reduce your risk? The easiest solution is to keep your phone away from your body. Don’t put it in our front pocket and use hands-free options when at all possible. The same recommendation would apply to your lap-top another source of EMR-RF. For those men not willing to break old habits, a company called belly armor sells men’s boxer-briefs that have RF shield impregnated into the fabric. (They also sell maternity items to shield expectant mothers) .
To reduce exposure to RF energy, use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, the supplied headphones, or other similar accessories. Carry iPhone at least 5mm away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below the as-tested levels
Adams, Jessica A., Galloway, Tamara S., Mondal, Debapriya, Esteves, Sandro C., and Mathews, Fiona. Effect of mobile telephones on sperm quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Environment International 70(0), 106-112. 2014.
Empowering Fertility: An educational blog for patients & healthcare professionals that empowers individuals to take charge of their fertility. Visit us at http://empoweringfertility.com.