According to a recent study, a man's sperm count can be lowered and even damaged considerably when exposed to an electronic device utilizing a wireless connection to the Internet, or Wi-Fi.
According to a recent study, a man’s sperm count can be lowered and even damaged considerably when exposed to an electronic device utilizing a wireless connection to the Internet, or Wi-Fi.
Conrado Avendano of Nascentis Medicina Reproductiva in Cordoba and colleagues performed the study. The scientists obtained sperm samples from 29 healthy men and placed them under a laptop connected to the Internet through a wireless connection. After four hours, they found that 25% of the sperm in the semen samples were no longer swimming, in comparison to the 14% of a different semen sample which was stored at the same temperature but far away from the computer.
They also found the 9% of the sperm showed DNA damage, which was three times the damage seen in the non-WiFi effected samples.
Researchers determined that electromagnetic radiation (EM) generated during wireless communication was responsible for the decrease in sperm count, as well as the excessive damage inflicted on it.
"Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the Internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality," they wrote in their report. "At present we do not know whether this effect is induced by all laptop computers connected by Wi-Fi to the internet or what use conditions heighten this effect."
The researchers performed another experiment with a laptop that was turned on, but not wirelessly connected; they found insignificant EM radiation from the machine alone, but nothing compared to the EM that was transmitted from the wireless connection.
Other studies have found similar results in various technologies; in one instance also concerning computers, urologists found that a hot laptop could damage a man’s sperm if he were to keep it on his lap.
Not everyone is convinced, however, of the potential threat laptops and WiFi may pose to male fertility. Dr Robert Oates, President of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, has stated that he does not consider laptops to be a significant threat to male reproductive health. "This is not real-life biology, this is a completely artificial setting," he stated in reference to the study. "It is scientifically interesting, but to me it doesn't have any human biological relevance."
"Suddenly all of this angst is created for real-life actual persons that doesn't have to be," continued Oates. "I don't know how many people use laptops on their laps anyway.”
Almost one in every six couples in the United States suffer difficulty in conceiving a child, and in 50% of these cases, the trouble lies within the man’s fertility, according to the American Urological Association.
Still, the researchers agreed on a point that Oates brought up: it all depends on lifestyle.
"You should be keeping yourself healthy," said Oates, which means staying fit, consuming a healthy diet, exercising, and not smoking.
This study was published in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility.