Men who speak for more than an hour a day on a cellphone double their risk of damaging their sperm count, a new study from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology claims
A new study from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology claims that men who speak for more than an hour a day on a cellphone double their risk of damaging their sperm count. Speaking while the phone is charging and carrying it too close to one’s groin are the most likely to cause damage.
Dr. Yulia Sheinfeld, M.D. led the research team looking at some 106 men who underwent fertility evaluations from 2011-2012. The study claims “significant causal relationships” between reduced sperm viability and smartphone use. Speaking on the phone longer than an hour a day and talking while it’s plugged in can actually double the likelihood of a decline in sperm concentration, according to a press release.
“In light of these findings, it’s absolutely recommended to cut the duration of our conversations over the phone, not to carry devices near the groin area, not to sleep beside it, not to speak on it at the same time that it’s charging (in fact, it’s best to shut it off and let it charge), and to use a headset as much as possible,” said Zilverlicht, a gynecologist at the Carmel Medical Center and a member of the Faculty of Medicine at Rappaport.
Those recommendations are jarring for people who keep their phones in their pockets, charging on their bedside tables and can’t put their devices down while they’re recharging. While not directly addressing the rise of wearable devices, it certainly spices up the conversation about those technologies’ effect on men’s health.
A vast difference in sperm count
This isn’t the first study of its kind. A 2014 review by Fiona Mathews at the University of Exeter in England concluded electromagnetic radiation (EMR) reduced sperm motility by 8 percent and viability by 9 percent. That study examined 1,492 men, theorizing that the rise in temperature from the phone might be a main factor.
A 2013 study by NGO EWG (an environmental advocacy organization) dismissed heat as the issue, but found similar problems for men who carried their phones on a belt holster while answering calls via bluetooth.
With the Technion study, 47.1% of men who carried their phones less than 50 cm from their groins had abnormally low levels of sperm in contrast to 11.1% of the general male population. The study describes a wide range of variables related to cellphone use and semen quality according to parameters set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The research subjects filled out questionnaires and noted their demographic backgrounds alongside their medical histories, also providing details on their daily cellphone use: how much time they spent on the phone, where they carried their devices, whether they spoke on it while charging and if calls were done in areas with poor reception.
The study was led by Dr. Yulia Sheinfeld, M.D. of the Technion’s Rappaport Medical Center in Carmel, Israel and done under the supervision of Associate Professor Martha Dirnfeld, Director of Fertility and IVF at the Carmel Medical Center. The team also included Zofnat Wiener-Megnazi, Bronislava Grach, Shirly Lahav-Baratz, and Ariel Zilverlicht. The article appears in the September 2015 issue of Reproductive BioMedicine Online.
The research team emphasized that further studies were needed with larger sample sets to check the damage caused by cellular radiation to male fertility.