Mobile phones: damaging men’s sperm?

Men who are worried about their fertility should take their phone out of their trouser pocket, say scientists

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Carrying your mobile phone in the front pocket of your jeans could be a bad idea if you’re a man, and you want children, say scientists.

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Anaylsis of previous study evidence, by scientists at the University of Exeter, does suggest that electromagnetic radiation of the sort transmitted by a mobile phone can significantly reduce the quality and the movement of a man’s sperm.

But the studies were mainly based on laboratory tests carried out on irradiated sperm or on questionnaires given to men at fertility clinics, so it’s too early to say for sure that a trousered phone would have the same effect.

“The studies are coming out with a consistent message that sperm motility and sperm quality declines with radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation exposure. It’s about an 8 percentage point fall,” says lead researcher Dr Fiona Mathews.

Given the enormous scale of mobile phone use around the world, Dr Mathews says, the potential effect of carrying a mobile phone in a trouser pocket needs to be clarified.

“But,” she adds, “I think, for your average man, there’s no need to panic. If you already know you have a potential fertility issue then it might be an additional thing to consider – just as you might change your diet – you might want to change where you keep your phone.”

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