Study summary and analysis written by Ann E. Laubscher, M.A.
This post is a summary and analysis of an independent scientific study titled “Effect of cell phone usage on semen analysis in men attending infertility clinic: an observational study“.
Scientific literature provides ample evidence of the effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic waves (EMW) on various systems of the body. The brain, heart, endocrine system, and DNA are all negatively impacted by EMW exposure. Sleep disturbances, concentration and fatigue problems, headaches, slowed reaction times, increases in resting blood pressure, DNA strand breaks, and melatonin production decreases have all been recorded in studies on EMW. Cell phones are one of the most frequently used technologies that emit EMW.
Because reported infertility issues affect 15% of couples, with 50% of those issues stemming from male infertility problems, the study of EMW on factors of sperm quality has become scientifically relevant. As one of the champions of male reproductive health, Dr. Ashok Agarwal and his team are striving to seek answers regarding the effects of cell phone exposure on male reproductive health.
This comprehensive observational study included 361 screened male subjects reporting to an infertility clinic in 2004-2005. The subjects were in good health, and those with vices such as smoking or drinking were excluded from the study. The subjects contributed semen samples under specific instructions and the samples were analyzed according to guidelines set by the World Health Organization for fertility research. Eight sperm parameters were examined: “volume, liquefaction time, pH, viscosity (thickness), sperm count, motility (movement), viability (live vs. nonlive sperm), and percentage normal morphology (structure).”
Subjects were divided into four sample groups based on daily cell phone talking time: group A: 40 subjects, no use; group B: 107 subjects, less than 2 hours; group C: 100 subjects, 2-4 hours; and group D 114 subjects, more than 4 hours. Research statistics for correlational studies were used to analyze the results. The researchers also examined the results from the perspective of subjects with normal sperm counts (297 subjects had more than 20 million sperm per mL of ejaculate) and reduced sperm counts (64 subjects had less than 20 million sperm per mL of ejaculate).
The statistics showed that there were strong correlations between the parameters of sperm count, motility, viability, normal morphology, and pH. Motility and viability had a particularly strong correlation, as can be expected…if the sperm are not moving, the probability they are nonliving is high.
Statistics performed on the differing cell phone groups showed statistically significant differences between the four groups on the parameters of sperm count, motility, viability, and morphology. Statistics performed on the normal vs reduced sperm count groups showed differences in the same parameters.
The results of this study are correlational, not causal. However, the evidence suggests that with increasing daily cell phone use, there is an increasing negative impact on the sperm health parameters of sperm count, motility, viability, and morphology. More research needs to be conducted to determine whether cell phone use affects each of these parameters independently, or whether it impacts one or more parameters, which in turn have deleterious consequences on the other parameters. Regardless, the study suggests that men facing fertility problems may benefit from spending less time talking on their cell phones.