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Does cell phone radiation affect male fertility?

March 28, 2018 / Posted by Dr. Virender Sodhi, MD (Ayurveda), ND, Richa Kumar Sood, BS Public Health

Cell phones have certainly revolutionized the way we communicate with each other. Almost all adults have a cell phone device in their hands nowadays. There has been a growing concern about the effects of cell phone radiation on biological tissues like the brain and testes. Can men be compromising their reproductive health by using cell phones? (Agarwal & Durairajanayagam, 2015)

Approximately 14% of couples in industrialized countries face challenges with conception, and male infertility is involved about 40% of the time. Inexplicable declines in semen quality have been reported in a number of countries. Studies indicate that radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation from cell phones has an effect on sperm development and function. (Adams, Galloway, Mondal, Esteves, & Mathews, 2014)

After the World Health Organization declared that cell phones could possibly cause brain cancer, many people thought that they can keep their phones in their pockets and use blue-tooth, reducing the exposure of electromagnetic waves. It certainly takes the devices away from the brain, but now they are close to the gonads. This can cause infertility due to the harmful effects of cell phone radiation. (Yildrim, et al., 2015)

In a meta-analysis of ten studies, including 1492 semen samples, exposure to cell phones was associated with reduced sperm motility and viability, but not necessarily sperm concentration. Sperm motility was about 8% less in phone radiation exposed than non-exposed groups. (Adams, Galloway, Mondal, Esteves, & Mathews, 2014)

This phenomenon alone might not translate into reduced fertility in men. Nevertheless, for those men who already have fertility problems and are preparing themselves for fatherhood, it is better to avoid holding a cell phone in a trouser pocket for long periods of time. (Gorpinchenko, Nikitin, Banyra, & Shulyak, 2014)

Cell phones are only a part of the cumulative effect of modern day environmental exposures that collectively reduce sperm quality and explain current trends in infertility. For instance, Wi-Fi from laptops also negatively affects sperm quality (Adams, Galloway, Mondal, Esteves, & Mathews, 2014). Researchers got semen samples from 1082 males and the total number of motile sperm decreased in the group that used wireless internet (Yildrim, et al., 2015). These were just observational studies that stimulated researchers to conduct more specific studies.

An investigational study on rats found that microwaves emitted from a cell phone do not affect rat testes. Testes of these animal are embedded in the skin unlike human, which are hanging for a reason. Many other studies found that higher testicular temperatures had negative effects on the ability of the testicles to produce sperm. Heat could also cause alternations in the sperm DNA and cause it to self-destruct. A study done in Italy on 10 men, who otherwise had normal sperm quality, when exposed to infra-red heat, it lowered quantity of sperm and caused DNA damage (Garolla, et al., 2013). Until proven otherwise though, it is recommended that men with fertility issues should minimize their exposure to environmental cell phone radiation heat and other kinds of heat to lessen negative effects on sperm quality. (Dasdag, et al., 2003)

If you are a male in this category, do not keep your cell phones in front trouser pockets as they are in close proximity to the testes. Even when the cell phones are not being used, they emit radiation periodically while communicating their position with their base stations. It is noteworthy that the main exposure is during the talk-mode. We leave our cell phones in the pocket while using a hands-free device. To take it a step further, guess what happens when we keep cell phones in proximity to other metal objects? When the metal zipper or key-ring in your pocket comes in contact with your cell phone, the amount of radiation that is absorbed into the testes almost doubles! (Whittow, Panagamuwa, & Edwards, 2008)

You may wonder if this radiation actually damages the human sperm. Researchers waved cell phone over human sperm in a petri dish. There was far more DNA fragmentation in human sperm exposed to cell phone radiation, which started within one hour of exposure. The effect was so powerful that the scientists advised pregnant women to not pocket their cell phones a few days after getting pregnant, in order to not put the sperm at greater risk (Gorpinchenko, Nikitin, Banyra, & Shulyak, 2014).

Ayurvedic Medicine can Help Reduce Effects of Detrimental Radiation

You can certainly try to limit the use of cell phones to minimize your cell phone exposure. However, it is not always practical in our day-to-day life. Scientific research confirms that Ayurvedic herbs can be beneficial in reducing the effects of radiation. I recommend taking herbs such as Amla, Triphala, Ashwagandha, and Guduchi, which naturally protect against radiation and DNA damage. Turmeric as well as other Indian spices such as Holy Basil and Ginger are phenomenal remedies for fighting the toxic effects of radiation. When we cook the spices, we destroy their beneficial effects. I recommend that you sprinkle the spices over your foods to receive full benefits.

References

  • Adams, J. A., Galloway, T. S., Mondal, D., Esteves, S. C., & Mathews, F. (2014, September). Effect of mobile telephones on sperm quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Environment International, 106-112.
  • Agarwal, A., & Durairajanayagam, D. (2015, May-Jun). Are men talking their reproductive health away? Asian Journal of Andrology, 17(3), 433-434.
  • Dasdag, S., Zulkuf, A. M., Aksen, F., Yilmaz, F., Bashan, M. D., & Salih, C. M. (2003). Whole body exposure of rats to microwaves emitted from a cell phone does not affect the testes. Bioelectromagnetics, 182-188.
  • Garolla, A., Torino, M., Sartini, B., Cosci, I., Patassini, C., Carraro, U., & Foresta, C. (2013, April 1). Seminal and molecular evidence that sauna exposure affects human spermatogenesis. Human Reproduction, 28(4), 877-885.
  • Gorpinchenko, I., Nikitin, O., Banyra, O., & Shulyak, A. (2014). The influence of direct mobile phone radiation on sperm quality. Central European Journal of Urology, 65-71.
  • Lerchl, A. (2013, March). Electromagnetic pollution: another risk factor for infertility, or a red herring? Asian Journal of Andrology, 201-203.
  • Whittow, W., Panagamuwa, C., & Edwards, R. (2008). Indicative sar levels due to an active mobile phone in a front trouser pocket in proximity to common metallic objects. Antennas and Propagation Conference. Loughborough: LAPC.
  • Yildrim, M., Kaynar, M., H, B., M, C., OF, K., & Cimentepe, E. (2015, September). What is harmful for male fertility: cell phone or the wireless Internet? Kaohsiung Journal of Medical Science, 31(9), 480-484.

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