Is male fertility affected by mobile phone use? A recent Swiss study suggests it is. As researchers try to understand why global sperm counts are on the decline, this new study sheds additional light on the environmental and lifestyle factors that may be impacting fertility. In this article we delve into the findings of this new research and its implications.
Mobile phone use and fertility
Titled Association between self-reported mobile phone use and the semen quality of young men, the nationwide cross-sectional study studied a total of 2886 men from the general Swiss population. The participants were recruited between 2005 and 2018 during military conscription and were all between the ages of 18 and 22. The study was conducted by Rita Rahban, Ph.D. et. al.
Participants were asked to deliver a semen sample and self report their mobile phone use and where they placed their phone when not in use. The association between mobile phone exposure and sperm volume, concentration, sperm count, motility and morphology was then evaluated.
While higher mobile phone use was found to be associated with lower sperm concentration and total sperm count, there was no impact observed on sperm morphology or sperm motility. Interestingly, the researchers also identified a downward trend in impact over the years, which coincided with the emergence of new mobile phone technology and decrease in mobile phone output power. Keeping a mobile phone in the pants pocket was not found to be associated with lower semen parameters, either.
Should fertility patients limit mobile phone use?
According to Professor Allan Pacey, while the study was very well conducted, it should be interpreted with caution: “we cannot be sure that the mobile phone is not a surrogate marker for another aspect of the men’s lifestyle or occupation that is the real cause of any changes of their sperm quality.”
Men who are concerned about their sperm health can keep their phones in a bag rather in a trouser pocket, as well as limit their use, however there is no evidence that this can improve sperm quality. On the other hand, moderate exercise, a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol have been proven to improve sperm health for those trying to conceive.
As fertility clinics strive to offer evidence-based guidance to their patients, this study sheds light on a potential factor influencing male fertility. By incorporating these findings into the broader conversation on environmental influences on fertility, clinics can empower individuals and couples with the knowledge needed to make informed choices on their reproductive journey.
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