New Study Links a Decrease in Sperm Quality and Concentration With Smartphone Use

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A new study shows that smartphones have been linked to decreasing sperm count and concentration. It's the latest study that finds a popular trend to blame for dwindling semen, after a recent project found that vaping shrinks testicles and lowers sperm count.

The report, published earlier this month in the journal Fertility and Sterility, looked at associations between the sperm concentration, total sperm count, sperm motility, and sperm morphology of the 2,886 men surveyed, along with their mobile phone usage. The participants, all of whom were Swedish men between the ages of 18 and 22, were monitored from 2005 until 2018.

Amongst the men who used their phones more than 20 times each day, researchers found they suffered a 21 percent decrease in sperm concentration over 13 years. “We think that this trend corresponds to the transition from 2G to 3G, and then from 3G to 4G, which has led to a reduction in the transmitting power of phones,” Rita Rahban, the study’s author, told Health.

However, the study stopped short of identifying how participants used their phones. Some experts say that further study is needed before definitively linking smartphones with a reduction in sperm concentration. Stanton Honig director of Men’s Health and Urology at Yale School of Medicine, told Health that the study failed to provide a cause and effect, despite showing a smaller number of sperm at the population level.

“Currently, there’s not enough hard science to support or refute the idea that cell phone use affects semen quality,” Honig concluded.

But many doctors agree that smartphones and testicles don’t mix. Neel Parekh, a specialist in men’s health at Cleveland Clinic, told the outlet that RF waves emitted by smart devices could hurt one’s sperm concentration.

“Cell phones can also generate heat when placed near the testes,” he explained. “Increased testicular temperature is known to be detrimental to sperm production and quality.”

Matthew Wosnitzer, a urologist who specializes in male reproductive medicine, agreed with Parekh’s assessment. “Testes function optimally at a temperature less than normal body temperature,” Wosnitzer reported, “and it has been well-documented that sperm production decreases when scrotal temperatures are elevated from heat generated by cell phone, tablet, and laptop use.”