Male Fertility & Cellphone Usage

Over the past 5 years, we have more information on the potential impact of cell phones and male fertility. Newer studies have attempted to look at what aspects of cell phone usage may be responsible for the changes seen in sperm count, sperm movement, and potential fertility.

What We Currently Know about Cell Phone Usage

Cell phones emit non-ionizing radiation in the form of electromagnetic waves (EMW), distinct from ionizing radiation like X-rays and radioactive materials. These waves can have both thermal and non-thermal effects. Exposure to EMW energy varies depending on factors such as the duration of cell calls, the proximity of the phone to the body while in use, and whether it’s being charged during calls.

Additionally, internet and app usage through cellular networks and Wi-Fi contribute to EMW exposure. It’s essential to note that the radiation output differs among cell phone models. Even when a cell phone is not in active use, it continues to emit intermittent signals to connect with nearby cell phone towers.

man talking on cell phone

The Effects of Cell Phone Usage Observed in Men

The effects of cell phone radiation on male reproductive health are multifaceted, encompassing various aspects such as reduced sperm count, diminished sperm motility, and altered sperm morphology. These changes include a decrease in total and per unit volume sperm count, as well as decreased movement and increased damage to sperm DNA when directly exposed to electromagnetic waves (EMW). Fluctuations in male hormone levels, particularly testosterone and LH, have been observed in response to EMW exposure.

Studies suggest a potential correlation between cell phone usage and erectile dysfunction (ED), particularly among men who carry their phones close to their bodies, such as in their pants pockets or on their belts. Research indicates that proximity, duration, type, and intensity of exposure all play crucial roles in influencing sperm quality, with reports indicating lower sperm counts when phones are within 50 cm (19 ½ inches) of the groin area. These findings underscore the importance of understanding and mitigating the potential risks associated with prolonged cell phone usage on male reproductive health.

What Does This Mean?

There is no conclusive evidence establishing a direct link between cell phone usage and male infertility. However, men who are actively seeking to conceive in the future or have male infertility are advised to minimize their exposure to cell phone radiation.

Given the potential associations between cell phones and adverse effects on sperm health, here are some practical recommendations:

  • Men should avoid carrying their cell phones close to their bodies whenever possible and turn them off when not in use.
  • Utilizing the speaker function or a headset can help reduce direct exposure.
  • Consider texting over prolonged calls to minimize exposure to electromagnetic wave (EMW) radiation.
  • Limiting EMW exposure by using the internet on a desktop computer instead of a mobile device is also advised.

These precautions aim to mitigate potential risks and support male reproductive health.

man texting to help lower is exposure to EMW radiation

This article is written by Carmelo Sgarlata, MD, a board certified reproductive endocrinologist with extensive experience in the field of in vitro fertilization and integrative medicine. He joined Oregon Reproductive Medicine in March of 2016 and oversees its new Integrative Medicine practice.

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