Mobile phones negatively affect male fertility, new study suggests

June 9, 2014

Men who keep a mobile phone in their trouser pocket could be inadvertently damaging their chances of becoming a father, according to a new study led by the University of Exeter.

Previous research has suggested that Radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) emitted by the devices can have a detrimental effect on . Most of the global adult population own mobile phones, and around 14% of couples in high and middle income countries have difficulty conceiving.

A team led by Dr Fiona Mathews, of Biosciences at the University of Exeter, conducted a systematic review of the findings from ten studies, including 1,492 samples, with the aim of clarifying the potential role of this environmental exposure.

Participants in the studies were from fertility clinics and research centres, and quality was measured in three different ways: motility (the ability of sperm to move properly towards an egg), viability (the proportion of sperm that were alive) and concentration (the number of sperm per unit of semen).

In control groups, 50-85% of sperm have normal movement. The researchers found this proportion fell by an average of 8 percentage points when there was exposure to mobile phones. Similar effects were seen for sperm viability. The effects on sperm concentration were less clear.

Dr Mathews said: "Given the enormous scale of 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 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."

The results were consistent across in vitro studies conducted under controlled conditions and observational in vivo studies conducted on men in the general population.

"Effect of mobile telephones on : a systematic review and meta-analysis" by Fiona Mathews et al is published today in the journal Environment International.

Related Stories

Sperm length variation is not a good sign for fertility

November 13, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—A new study published online in the journal Human Reproduction finds that the greater the inconsistency in the length of sperm, particularly in the tail (flagellum), the lower the concentration of sperm ...

Stress degrades sperm quality

May 29, 2014

Psychological stress is harmful to sperm and semen quality, affecting its concentration, appearance, and ability to fertilize an egg, according to a study led by researchers Columbia University's Mailman School of Public ...

Recommended for you

Can four fish oil pills a day keep the doctor away?

July 7, 2015

Fish oil is one of the most popular dietary supplements in the U.S. because of the perceived cardiovascular benefits of the omega-3 it contains. However, scientific findings on its effectiveness have been conflicting. New ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.