If you carry a cellphone in your pocket, you may have heard that it can zap sperm and lead to infertility. Not so fast, a University of Utah doctor warns.
Despite similar research on this topic that states long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation associated with mobile phones can negatively affect sperm quality, this research is not conclusive.
"I've never seen conclusive data that would lead me to advise a patient against carrying a cellphone in his pocket," says James M. Hotaling, MD, MS, an expert in male fertility and andrology at University of Utah Health. He cautions against jumping to that conclusion. Here’s why:
- Infertility is a common issue
Infertility affects one in every six couples trying to conceive in the United States. In at least half of all cases of infertility, the male is a contributing cause.
- Study flaws
Hotaling notes several possible flaws to previous studies looking at the link between male fertility and cellphone exposure. For instance, participants are typically selected from a fertility clinic, which introduces a selection bias.
- Sperm count varies all the time
Sperm count can change from hour to hour, day to day, and month to month. To truly achieve a representative sample, men's sperm quality would need to be monitored for a long time.
Rather than focus on the insignificant variable of cellphone use, Hotaling says it's more important to look at other, more easily modifiable factors when it comes to determining male fertility. Diet and exercise are two such examples.
However, there is one factor that matters most—age. "People are waiting until later in life to conceive, so infertility is on the rise," he says.
Many factors can contribute to the possibility of male infertility. The good news? There is help. If you and your partner have concerns about conceiving, reach out to your provider to get started.