Cell phone usage may damage a man’s sperm, study warns


BUSAN, South Korea — Men looking to start a family should spend less time on their phones, a new study warns. Researchers in South Korea have found that cell phone usage increases exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic waves that could damage sperm concentration, viability, and motility.

“​​Male cell-phone users should strive to reduce mobile phone use to protect their sperm quality,” says Yun Hak Kim, an assistant professor from Pusan National University, in a media release.

Mobile phones emit low-level radiofrequency electromagnetic waves which can possibly damage the brain, heart, and endocrine system, according to previous research. A review of studies on radiofrequency electromagnetic waves from 2011 suggested these waves also reduce sperm quality. However, the data analysis focused on phones that are no longer in popular use today.

In this study, scientists looked at the amount of damage radiofrequency electromagnetic waves from modern-day cell phones may inflict on a user’s health.

The team conducted a new meta-analysis evaluating studies published from 2012 to 2021 that looked into cell phones’ effects on sperm quality. They found and reviewed data from 18 studies, encompassing 4,280 sperm samples.

Results confirmed a link between cell phone use and a decrease in sperm motility, viability, and concentration. Interestingly, researchers did not find a link between reduced sperm quality and how much time a man spends on their phone, just exposure to cell phones themselves.

Since tech companies are constantly updating their phones, the researchers suggest more studies are necessary to evaluate the threat level mobile devices have on male fertility.

“Additional studies will be needed to determine the effect of exposure to EMWs emitted from new mobile phone models in the present digital environment,” Dr. Kim explains.

The findings appear in the journal Environmental Research.

About the Author

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

Jocelyn is a New York-based science journalist whose work has appeared in Discover Magazine, Health, and Live Science, among other publications. She holds a Master’s of Science in Psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and a Bachelor’s of Science in integrative neuroscience from Binghamton University. Jocelyn has reported on several medical and science topics ranging from coronavirus news to the latest findings in women’s health.

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