Cell Phones Can Impact Men's Fertility

First Posted: Jun 10, 2014 06:19 PM EDT

Longtime speculation errs on the side of caution regarding the use of cell phones. A new study suggests that a male's sperm number and mobility is negatively affected when one's mobile phone is kept in their pocket.

Researchers at the University of Exeter reviewed ten studies on sperm quality involving 1,492 men, which included laboratory tests on sperm exposed to radiation emitted from mobile phones. Nine out of the ten studies revealed a link between mobile phone exposure and poorer sperm quality.

"I think for your average man there's certainly no need to panic, if you already know you have a potential fertility issue then it might be an additional thing to consider - just as you might change your diet - you might want to change where you keep your phone," said Dr. Fiona Mathews, the lead researcher of the study, in this BBC News article.

The study, "Effect of Mobile Telephones on Sperm Quality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis," was published in the journal Environment International. The researchers acknowledge that further studies must be conducted in order to provide more definitive findings because they were unable to determine how sperm was damaged by mobile phones, although they believed electromagnetic radiation was to blame.

However, for some, the University of Exeter study had no effect on opinion or habits with mobile phones. Dr. Allen Pacey of Sheffield University is a sperm researcher and he does not believe these findings are of any significance. He says he will continue keeping his iPhone in his right hand trouser pocket.

"There have been some crazy and alarming headlines, but, in my opinion, the studies undertaken to date have been somewhat limited in scope because they have either irradiated sperm kept in a dish or they have made assessments of men's phone habits without adequately controlling for confounding variables, such as other aspects of their lifestyle," he added in this BBC News article.

But Dr. Mathews' research is certainly not insignificant. Previous studies have found that magnetic fields might be affecting sperm by generating DNA damage through the development of more unstable oxygen compounds. The heat of the cell phones can also be a factor, increasing temperature of the testicles, which can affect normal sperm production.

Although there is no definitive evidence, precautionary measures can't hurt.

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