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Study links heavy cell phone use to lower sperm count

In a recent cross-sectional study published within the journal Fertility and Sterility, researchers from Switzerland investigated the association between self-reported cell phone use and semen quality in young Swiss men. They found that an increased use of mobile phones is related to a reduced sperm concentration and total sperm count (TSC) within the semen.

Study: Association between self-reported cell phone use and the semen quality of young men. Image Credit: SeaRick1 / Shutterstock


Infertility affects about 17% of couples worldwide, with about 50% of the cases attributable to the male partner. While the reason for poor semen quality is yet to be thoroughly understood, various aspects resembling obesity, alcohol consumption, smoking, and stress are known to be related to a reduced sperm count.

The alarming rise of using mobile phones and the ensuing exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) is shown in experimental and observational studies to affect the reproductive health of males concerning sperm count, morphology, motility, and viability. Nonetheless, these studies are few and with various biases of concern. Subsequently, researchers conducted a cross-sectional study examining the potential association between semen parameters, cell phone use, and position when not in use in young Swiss men between 2005 and 2018.

Concerning the study

In the current study, 5,605 men aged 18–22 years were surveyed across six centers within the country using questionnaires regarding their health and lifestyle in addition to their parents’ preconception period. The boys were also asked in regards to the duration and frequency of mobile use (rarely, just a few times per week, 1–5 times per day, 5–10 times per day, 10–20 times per day, >20 times per day) and the place where they kept the phone (in a jacket pocket, pant pocket, belt carrier, or elsewhere) when not in use.

A complete of two,866 men were physically examined for his or her genital anatomy, testicular volume, weight, and height, they usually contributed semen samples to the study.. Semen evaluation was performed based on guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) to find out the sperm concentration, TSC, motility, and morphology. Statistical evaluation included using the Kruskal-Wallis test, Chi-square test, and adjusted logistic and linear regression models. Moreover, a sensitivity evaluation was also performed by excluding the lads with azoospermia (1%).

Results and discussion

It was found that men with the next frequency of mobile usage were barely younger (19 years) and had the next body mass index (BMI = 22.8 kg/m2) as in comparison with men with a lower frequency of mobile use (BMI = 21 kg/m2, age 20 years). Interestingly, while 56.5% of the lads used their mobile phones lower than once per week between 2005 and 2007, this proportion reduced to five% between 2015 and 2018.

Men using mobile phones at a high frequency (>20 times a day) showed a 21% reduction in sperm concentration and a 22% TSC decrease as in comparison with those that rarely (lower than once per week) used mobile phones. Significant exposure-response trends were observed across the whole exposure range on this group of men. Furthermore, these men also showed the next risk of getting a sperm concentration and TSC below the WHO reference value for fertile men. The likelihood of getting a lower-than-WHO-reference sperm concentration was significantly higher in men using mobile phones 5–10 times a day than those that rarely used it within the day or week (adjusted odds ratio = 1.409). The outcomes appeared unchanged even when men with azoospermia were excluded from the study. Interestingly, the association between sperm concentration and cell phone use was shown to be stronger during 2005–2007 and progressively reduced within the periods 2008–2011 and 2012–2018. The semen volume, sperm morphology, and motility weren’t found to be related to the frequency of mobile use.

About 85.7% of the included men were found to store their mobile phones of their pant pockets (when not in use). Nonetheless, the semen quality parameters weren’t found to be affected by the position of the cell phone when not in use.

That is essentially the most extensive study evaluating the effect of mobile-phone-based RF-EMF exposure on semen quality. The outcomes are further strengthened by the proven fact that the studied sample of men got here from a general population with an unknown fertility status. Nonetheless, there are just a few limitations to the study. It didn’t evaluate the day by day RF-EMF absorption and relied solely on self-reported data for surveying mobile usage. Also, the characteristics of the phone, resembling its brand, variety of applications, network quality, use of ear accessories, and output power, weren’t recorded.


Given the dramatic increase in cell phone usage globally, this study’s findings provide essential insights into the effect of increased RF-EMF exposure on male reproductive health. In the longer term, conducting prospective studies that accurately measure RF-EMF exposure could help understand the mechanism of motion underlying these effects.

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