Frequent Cellphone Use Associated with Lower Sperm Count and Concentration, Study Suggests


A recent study reveals potential links between cellphone usage and semen quality. The research, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, indicates that frequent cellphone users may have lower sperm concentrations and total sperm counts, though no connection was found to sperm motility and morphology.

The investigation was conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Geneva and the Swiss Tropical (UNIGE) and Public Health Institute, who aimed to understand the effects of electromagnetic radiation emitted by cellphones on semen quality.

Researchers analyzed survey data from 2,886 Swiss men who completed detailed questionnaires on their lifestyle habits, general health status, and cellphone usage. They examined the participants’ semen parameters, such as sperm concentration and total sperm count, and their cellphone habits. The study also considered a wide range of lifestyle factors and avoided selection bias by not exclusively sampling from fertility clinics.

''Previous studies evaluating the relationship between the use of cellphones and semen quality were performed on a relatively small number of individuals, rarely considering lifestyle information, and have been subject to selection bias, as they were recruited in fertility clinics,'' said Rita Rahban, co-lead of the study and senior researcher and teaching assistant in the Department of Genetic Medicine and Development in the Faculty of Medicine at the UNIGE and the Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology. “This has led to inconclusive results.”

The team found that those who used their phones over 20 times a day had a 21 percent decrease in sperm concentration compared to men who used their phones once a week or less. The study also observed that the decline in semen quality associated with cellphone use was more significant in earlier years, which researchers said may correlate with the transition from 2G to 4G networks.

According to the findings, where the phone was carried did not seem to impact semen quality, though the researchers note that the sample size for men not carrying their phone close to their body was too small to be conclusive.

To overcome the limitations of self-reported data, a new study, funded by the Federal Office for the Environment, will measure exposure to electromagnetic waves directly through an app. This research aims to shed light on how cellphones might affect male reproductive health, exploring whether the effects are direct or indirect and how they might influence hormonal regulation or temperature of the testes.

''Do the microwaves emitted by mobile phones have a direct or indirect effect? Do they cause a significant increase in temperature in the testes? Do they affect the hormonal regulation of sperm production? This all remains to be discovered,” Rahban said.