02 November 2023

Researchers revealed how cell phones affect sperm

A long-term study in Switzerland has found that frequency of cell phone use correlates with sperm quality in young men.

Researchers from the University of Geneva and the Swiss Institute of Tropical Medicine and Public Health evaluated the impact of cell phones on sperm quality in young men. The analysis showed that frequent use of gadgets was associated with a decrease in the concentration and total number of sperm in the ejaculate.

The study involved 2,886 men from 18 to 22 years old from Switzerland. Researchers took semen samples at six army recruiting stations in different regions of the country. Volunteers also filled out a questionnaire about cell phone use.

The analysis showed that men who used their phones more than 20 times a day had an average sperm count of 44.5 million/mL. This was 21% lower than participants who used the gadget only once a week. They had an average sperm count of 56.5 million/mL. Sperm motility and sperm shape were not affected. The effect of reduced sperm concentration was observed regardless of where the participants preferred to carry their phone - in a pants pocket, jacket pocket or in a bag.

Additionally, the scientists divided the overall results into three waves: from 2005 to 2007, from 2008 to 2011, and from 2011 to 2018. These phases conventionally corresponded to changes in technological standards: the sequential shift from 2G to 3G and 4G. The association between sperm count and cell phone use declined over time. The researchers attributed this change to a decrease in the radiation power of the devices as they moved to the next generations of communication.

The drawback of this study is that the frequency and habitual way of phone use was determined based on participants' self-assessment, the scientists said. To confirm their findings, they plan to conduct an additional study. Participants will use a mobile application on a smartphone that will monitor the level of electromagnetic radiation and how men use gadgets.

A variety of factors affect the decline in sperm quality. Numerous studies have shown that sperm counts have declined from an average of 99 million/ml to 47 million/ml over the past 50 years. This is thought to be due to a combination of environmental (endocrine disruption, pesticides, radiation) and lifestyle (diet, alcohol, stress, smoking) factors.
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