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New research suggests that the use of mobile phones may be associated with a decrease in sperm concentration and total sperm count.
Yet, the research concluded that there was no correlation between using the devices and having lower sperm motility or abnormal sperm shape.
Numerous factors related to the environment and lifestyle have been suggested as possible reasons for the decrease in semen quality seen in the past half-century. However, there is still a lack of evidence to support the idea that electromagnetic radiation from cell phones plays a role in this decline.
A team of scientists from UNIGE examined information gathered from 2,886 males between the ages of 18 and 22 in Switzerland. The participants were selected from six military conscription centers and the data spanned from 2005 to 2018.
The researchers discovered that the amount of sperm in men who only used their phone once a week was significantly greater (56.5 million per milliliter) compared to those who used their phone more than 20 times a day (44.5 million per milliliter).
Based on the research, there is a 21% drop in sperm concentration for individuals who frequently use their phones (more than 20 times a day) compared to those who rarely use their phones (less than once, or once a day).
The quality of semen is measured by evaluating factors like the amount of sperm, overall sperm count, movement of sperm, and shape of sperm.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), if a man’s sperm concentration is below 15 million per milliliter, it is likely to take more than one year for him to conceive a child.
Moreover, chances of conception decrease when sperm concentration falls below 40 million per milliliter.
Previous research has indicated a decline in semen quality over the past five decades. This decline is believed to be caused by a combination of external influences such as exposure to pesticides and radiation, as well as personal lifestyle choices including diet, alcohol consumption, stress, and smoking.
The link discovered in the research was stronger during the initial period (2005-2007) and decreased gradually over time (2008-2011 and 2012-2018).
The results suggest that 4G could be less detrimental compared to 2G.
Martin Roosli, an associate professor at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), stated that there has been a shift from 2G to 3G and then to 4G, resulting in a decrease in the transmitting power of phones.
Rita Rahban is a leading investigator and instructor in the Division of Genetic Medicine and Development within the Medical Faculty at UNIGE, as well as at the Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology (SCAHT). She is also the primary contributor and co-leader of the research project.
According to her, past research on the connection between mobile phone use and semen quality has been limited in scope, often ignoring lifestyle factors and potentially biased due to recruitment from fertility clinics.
“This has resulted in inconclusive findings.”
The study, carried out in partnership with the Swiss TPH, also suggests that the location of the phone, such as in trouser pockets, was not associated with lower levels of concentration and count.
Unfortunately, the sample size of individuals who reported not keeping their phone near their body was insufficient to make a definite determination on this matter.
The male participants in the research filled out an extensive survey about their daily habits, overall health, how often they used their phones, and where they stored them when not in use.
Although the results were published in Fertility and Sterility, professionals claim that there is no reason to be concerned.
According to Professor Alison Campbell, the chief scientific officer of the Care Fertility Group, this study is interesting and unique. It should not be a cause for concern or lead to significant changes in behavior.
“Men who are trying to have a baby or want to enhance their sperm health should engage in physical activity (while being cautious of overheating in the groin area), consume a well-rounded diet, maintain a healthy weight, refrain from smoking, limit alcohol intake, and seek assistance if they are experiencing difficulties in conceiving.”
According to Professor Allan Pacey, an andrology expert from the University of Manchester, men can easily address their concerns about phone radiation by keeping their phones in a bag and limiting their usage.
At this time, there is no proof that placing a phone in one’s pocket will enhance sperm quality. This would require a randomized controlled trial. Personally, I will continue to keep my phone in my pocket.