Billions of men around the world use cellphones, laptops, or microwaves every day. In other words, they are regularly exposed to EMF radiation. Most people know that exposure to EMF can negatively impact overall health and wellness, but the hidden effects of EMF and male fertility can be seriously damaging.
With the regular placement of EMF-emitting devices in front pockets or on laps and their proximity to the male reproductive organs, phones and laptops can have surprising effects on male fertility with the power to devastate hopeful parents. And, with male fertility rates continuing to plummet, it’s critical to be aware of its threat.
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Male Fertility & Infertility
Male infertility is a sensitive subject but it’s one that affects one in 25 men, and infertility rates are growing.
According to this 2013 article from the Wall Street Journal, “some experts raising the alarm over what some are calling a ‘sperm crisis’ because they believe men’s sperm counts have been decreasing for a decade or more.”
One recent analysis found that in France, the sperm concentration of men decreased by nearly one-third between 1989 and 2005. Most but not all studies from several European nations with large databases and the ability to track health records have found that over the past 15 years or so, the counts of healthy men ages 18 to 25 have significantly decreased. This comes after a prominent study from the 1990s suggested that sperm count has decreased by half over the last half-century.The Wall Street Journal
The Role of High Tech in Fertility
How do you tackle a very private, emotionally charged issue? Revolutions like new home testing for male fertility are breaking down barriers. The test uses a cheap device that attaches to a mobile phone with an app. Sperm samples can be analysed in the privacy of your own home. It’s thought the device could become as widespread as home pregnancy testing. This could prove to be an important boost in the fight against male infertility, allowing men to monitor their sperm counts and collect accurate data.
And wearable technology like Fitbits, fitness trackers, meal planners and calorie counting apps, have made getting personalised feedback and advice on our health and fitness easier than ever. You don’t need a personal trainer or nutritionist to improve your wellbeing, and those improvements also benefit your fertility.
Technology doesn’t always have a positive impact however. In fact, our mobile phones that enable all these innovations could be making infertility worse.
Mobile phones also enable us to stay up late at night, surfing the web and playing games, stimulating our brains when we should be sleeping. Sleep deprivation and difficulty sleeping has been linked to the blue light emitted by phone screens. In turn, it leads to stress, depression, obesity, diabetes and cardiopulmonary disease. As well as irritability, moodiness and being more accident-prone.
We know that stress and obesity can cause problems conceiving, and being too tired or too wired in the bedroom to perform any baby-making duties doesn’t help either.
But one of the biggest causes for concern about our high tech devices and fertility is the EMF radiation emitted by all our gadgets.
EMF Radiation Decreased Sperm & Sperm Quality
One of the researchers who has contributed to the investigation of the role that cell phone and WiFi radiation might be playing in this trend is Ashok Agarwal of the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Agarwal has published multiple studies on this question.
For example, Dr. Agarwal’s 2007 study, “Effect of cell phone usage on semen analysis in men attending infertility clinic: an observational study” studied the relationship between exposure to cell phone radiation and infertility in 361 men, divided into four groups:
- Those who did not use cell phones
- Those who used cell phones for less than 2 hours a day
- Those who used cell phones between 2 and 4 hours a day
- Those who used cell phones for more than 4 hours a day
Dr. Agarwal’s results showed statistically significant differences in fertility, and sperm quality, between these four groups.
More significantly, these results demonstrate what is called a “dose-response” relationship between exposure to cell phones, and decreased fertility.
As the 2007 report concludes: “The decrease in sperm parameters was dependent on the duration of daily exposure to cell phones and independent of the initial semen quality.”
In other words, the more a man used a cell phone, the less healthy that man’s sperm was.
And this is just one of several studies pointing to similar conclusions.
Three Ways that EMF Can Impact Male Fertility
Here are the different ways that exposure to EMF can impact male fertility:
Lowered Sperm Count
EMF radiation has been connected to lower sperm count and quality. In fact, studies have found that long-term exposure can decrease sperm concentrations by nearly a third, especially that of healthy sperm. This means that sperm motility, count and viability were all significantly impacted by years of exposure to cellphones, microwaves, etc. And, lowered sperm count and quality reduce the statistical chances of successful conception, therefore inhibiting male fertility.
Decreased Testosterone Levels
Another study found that men who regularly used cellphones had lower testosterone levels in general. Testosterone is responsible for regulating male libido, sexual response and performance, and semen production. So, a decrease in the body’s volume of the hormone can result in sexual disorders like erectile dysfunction, inhibiting a man’s ability to perform sexually, as well as lowered sperm count and quality.
Affected Sperm DNA
EMF is genotoxic, meaning it can harm– sometimes irreparably– your DNA. Most of the DNA in your body exists in pairs, meaning that if one strand of your DNA is damaged, the cell has the potential to repair it based on the other copy in the cell.
Sperm is different. Sperm only has one strand of DNA (as it is designed to be paired and mixed with the DNA in a woman’s egg). So when the DNA is sperm is damaged, the body does not have the capacity to repair that damage.
Researchers into EMF and male fertility have found that sperm placed near laptops had significant DNA damage and fragmentation. (And relatedly, researchers found that EMF protection saves sperm against WiFi radiation!)
Since it is each sperm’s DNA that acts as its navigation toward the ovum, this means each sperm had a much smaller chance of producing viable offspring and fertilizing an egg.
How to Improve Male Fertility
Luckily, there are several ways to reduce your exposure to EMF radiation and take better care of your fertility and overall health.
- Limit your exposure.
Try to keep track of the time you spend on or close to EMF-emitting devices and cut back where possible. Avoid putting your phone in your front pocket, for example, or using your laptop directly on your lap. These are two examples of the types of behavior that can make a huge difference in your exposure, and it’s why we say the best EMF protection is free.
- Use EMF-blocking products to protect yourself.
There are shields available for cellphones and laptops, as well as boxers and phone pouches that provide all-around protection from EMF exposure, when you do use and carry your tech with you.
- Avoid using 5G.
Few people fully understand what 5G is, but its safety and health impacts are certainly in question. Try to avoid using 5G when possible, and instead, stay on wifi.
How EMF Affects Sperm & Eggs Differently
There are many studies that electromagnetic radiation (EMF/EMR), such as from a cell phone carried in a pocket, can harm sperm, causing infertility and sub-fertility in men. But what about women’s eggs? It’s natural to wonder how EMF affects sperm and eggs differently.
Two Key Differences
There are two key differences between the reproductive cells in men (sperm) and in women (eggs), that affect how they respond to cell phone radiation.
The first is that male reproductive cells are on the outside of the body. This leaves them more exposed to radiation, for example, when you keep your cell phone in your pocket. Females carry their eggs on the inside of their bodies— which means that they are more shielded from electromagnetic forces.
The second key difference is that men regenerate their sperm on a daily basis. In stark contrast, women are born with all of the eggs they will ever have. This means that damage to sperm is not a permanent condition. Whereas, damage incurred to female eggs is a permanent condition; if the eggs in a female are damaged, no more will be generated.
So, sperm is more vulnerable than are eggs; women are inherently more protected from genetic damage to their eggs.
However, if the eggs of a woman incur genetic damage, that damage is permanent; whereas men will regenerate their supply of reproductive material each day.
Women Have Other Related Health Risks from EMF Radiation
While women do not need to worry as much about fertility risks from EMF radiation, women have their own concerns about EMF radiation exposure. You can learn more about those here.