Laptops and Cell Phones May Harm Sperm, Fertility
Two different studies point to ways two of today’s most popular technological advances may harm sperm and fertility. One study notes that men who use laptops may be jeopardizing the health of their sperm, while another suggests that cell phone use may “put sperm to sleep,” according to a Telegraph article.
Men may want to reconsider laptop and cell phone use
During the Italian Society of Sexual Medicine annual congress in Modena, results of a study were presented which suggested that talking a lot on cell phones may harm sperm and risk male fertility. The preliminary results from Rome’s La Sapienza University and the Santa Maria Goretti Hospital at Latina noted that “there is a correlation between cell phone use and a worsening in sperm mobility.”
The preliminary study evaluated sperm from men who used cell phones from 30 minutes up to four hours per day. According to Andrea Lenzi, president of the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine, waves from cell phones seem to “put sperm to sleep.”
Lenzi pointed out in a UK Telegraph article that these findings are preliminary, and that other factors, such as stress, smoking, and alcohol use may also be involved in affecting the quality of sperm in cell phone users.
In another study, Yelim Sheynkin, a urologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, reported that men who use laptops may harm their sperm because heat from the computers raise the temperature of their scrotum. The new study appears in Fertility and Sterility. Sheynkin published a similar study in 2005 in Human Reproduction.
Within as little as 10 to 15 minutes, heat from a laptop can raise scrotal temperature beyond what is considered to be a safe level. Normally, the scrotal temperature is one to two degrees cooler than body temperature (98.6 degrees F or 37 degrees C), which is necessary for sperm production. Raising the temperature of the scrotum even one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees F) is enough to harm sperm. The study found that after one hour, the scrotal temperature had risen by up to 2.5 C.
The study found that even when men kept their legs apart with the computer on their lap, the scrotum still overheated. Sheynkin told Reuters Health that “No matter what you do, even with the legs spread wide apart, the temperature is still going to be higher than what we call safe.”
Neither one of these studies states definitively that using a laptop or a cell phone will cause a man to become infertile. However, they are a heads-up for men, especially laptop users, that these devices may be inflicting some harm to their sperm and possibly their fertility. Future studies may tell us more.