Cellphones may damage sperm quality, new study suggests

Keeping your cellphone in your pants pocket may help you quickly answer a call, but new research suggests this habit may have some damaging health effects for men – notably wannabe fathers.

A new study, published in the journal Environmental International, suggests that men who keep their cellphones in their pants may inadvertently damage their sperm, decreasing their fertility.

To get these findings, researchers from the University of Exeter conducted a systematic review of 10 studies, which included 1,492 men who had visited fertility clinics or research centers and had given samples of their sperm.  Sperm quality was gauged based on three different measurements: motility (the ability to move properly to the egg), viability (the amount of alive sperm in a sample), and concentration (the amount sperm per unit of semen).

The researchers found that a control group of men had 50 to 80 percent of sperm with normal movement.  However, this average dropped by 8 percent for men who were exposed to mobile phones.  A similar drop was seen for men in regards to sperm viability, but the effects on sperm concentration weren’t clear.

According to previous research, it’s possible that the radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) emitted by cellphones can have a harmful effect on male fertility.  And with such widespread use of cellphones worldwide, the researchers hope their work will inspire more health experts to look into the association further.

"This study strongly suggests that being exposed to radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation from carrying mobiles in trouser pockets negatively affects sperm quality,” Dr. Fiona Matthews, professor of biosciences at the University of Exeter, said in a press release. “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."