While radiation from mobile and wireless devices affects all living things, women have specific concerns. In fact, women face multiple dangers to their health from exposure to EMF radiation—and each of them is important to consider.
There are three main areas of focus when it comes to women and EMF: fertility, pregnancy, and breast health. It’s worth understanding the risks, the latest research, and the measures you can take to protect yourself from harm.
EMF Health Dangers for Women: Fertility
Fertility is one of the big health questions around electromagnetic fields. There’s already mounting evidence that cell phone radiation is linked to plummeting male fertility — one of the reasons why cell phone companies include warnings not to carry your phone in your pocket.
But what about fertility and women?
Women’s reproductive systems are very different to men’s. For starters, women’s eggs live deep inside the body and thus are somewhat protected from outside forces like radiation. A man’s sperm is much more vulnerable because it resides in the testicles outside the body.
But on the other hand, women are born with all their eggs and can’t create more. So if the eggs do get damaged, it’s permanent.
So what does that mean for women who carry their phones in their pockets?
Well, the damage they experience may be less direct than with men — but studies suggest the damage does still exist.
Consider this study which found that people living close to cell phone base stations had “significantly higher” concentrations of alpha-amylase (a marker of stress) in their bodies. At the same time, higher levels of stress, as measured by alpha-amylase, have been linked to an increased risk of infertility in women.
So if we put two and two together, increased exposure to cell phone radiation leads to higher stress, which compromises a woman’s fertility — even though her eggs are better protected by the body.
Other studies, including animal studies, have also linked female fertility issues to EMF exposure – especially with regards to ovarian health.
Ovarian Function and EMF
The ovaries are a pair of glands located beside the uterus. They play a crucial role in the female reproductive system: as well as producing hormones like estrogen and progesterone, they also form the eggs. And of course, without the eggs, reproduction wouldn’t be possible.
According to a growing number of scientists, constant EMF exposure can lead to irreversible ovarian damage. This causes problems with reproduction, and even permanent infertility.
One animal study from 2015 said that EMF exposure is directly linked to a reduction in the number of ovarian follicles.
An ovarian follicle is a small fluid-filled sac in the ovary which carries one immature egg. This egg matures during a menstrual cycle, after which the follicle breaks open to release the egg, opening up the possibility of fertilization.
Medical experts consider an average of 8-10 follicles per ovary as ‘normal.’ When the number of follicles goes below this number, it means that either the host has few eggs remaining, or the eggs she has are of poor quality. Fewer or poor-quality eggs can lead to difficulties getting pregnant, or result in permanent infertility.
For this experiment, the researchers gathered female rats and exposed their abdominals to EMF operating at 900 MHz frequency. They exposed the subjects for 15 minutes per day for 15 days.
When they completed this part of the experiment, they examined the subjects and found that the number of ovarian follicles in the female rats had been significantly reduced.
Another similar 2009 study says that “the decreased number of follicles in pups exposed to mobile phone microwaves suggest that intrauterine exposure has toxic effects on ovaries.”
While there’s no way to ethically conduct such studies in human subjects, this research highlights that EMF exposure can certainly negatively affect living reproductive tissue.
EMF and Ovarian Oxidative DNA Damage
Several research studies have linked EMF to ovarian oxidative DNA damage, which means that constant EMF exposure can lead to impaired ovarian function.
In 2017, scientists from various countries formed a research body to better understand the effects of EMF on ovarian tissues, and the results were quite alarming.
They used a GSM network for this study, which operates on a much lower EMF frequency than our modern-day high-speed network. In this study, they found that constant EMF exposure increases lipid peroxidation in ovarian tissues.
Lipids are a vital component of living cells. Long-term exposure to EMF initiates the process of lipid peroxidation. In this process, free radicals in your body steal electrons from the lipids in cell membranes, which results in irreversible cell damage.
Apart from this, they also found that EMF decreases glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) enzyme activity. GSH-Px’s primary role is to protect the organism from oxidative damage, and its reduction increases the risk of oxidative stress and oxidative DNA damage.
The evidence we have now confirms that long-term EMF exposure causes oxidative stress and oxidative DNA damage to the ovarian tissues, leading to impaired fertility function.
EMF Health Dangers for Women: Pregnancy
Once a women has successfully become pregnant, she has a new concern: the health and safety of the new life taking shape inside her. And it’s well established that a growing fetus is far more vulnerable to all kinds of threats that adult bodies are better equipped to handle. That’s why pregnant women take great care to limit their exposure to environmental toxins, chemicals, bacteria, even heat.
If developing fetuses are more vulnerable to all such potentially-harmful influences, radiation from EMF would be no different. This is not just a logical conclusion: it’s one backed up by a growing body of research.
Take this study from 2017. It found that women who were exposed to higher EMF levels had 2.72 times the risk of miscarriage than those with lower EMF exposure. The women in the study were asked to carry around a magnetic field meter for 24 hours on a typical day during their pregnancy in order to assess their exposure.
What this means is that the women were almost three times as likely to have a miscarriage just from the higher EMF levels they were exposed to while going about their day-to-day lives.
The scientists who conducted the research conclude: “This study provides fresh evidence, directly from a human population, that MF non-ionizing radiation could have adverse biological impacts on human health.”
Another study found that exposure of pregnant women to cell phone radiation significantly increased fetal and neonatal heart rate, and significantly decreased fetal cardiac output.
Exposure to EMF in the womb could also lead to ongoing health problems for the child. Take this study from 2011 which found a strong association between maternal EMF exposure and risk of asthma in the child. For the study, which tracked 626 asthma-diagnosed children for up to 13 years, mothers wore a meter during pregnancy to measure their magnetic field exposure.
Those children whose mothers absorbed a high level of EMF had more than a 3.5-fold increased rate of asthma.
The relationship between EMF exposure and asthma risk was found to be linear. “Every 1-mG increase of maternal MF level during pregnancy was associated with a 15% increased rate of asthma in offspring,” says the study. So, the higher the exposure, the higher the asthma risk – and every little increase counts.
EMF Health Dangers for Women: Bras
The other major concern regarding women and EMF is breast health. In 2017, researchers at Monash University in Australia surveyed nearly 200 women of ages 15 to 40, and found that a quarter had carried their smartphone tucked into their bra — with 15 percent doing so in the past week.
If you’re in the habit of carrying your phone in your bra or close to your chest, you may like to reconsider. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry — and one 2013 report from Breastlink concluded that carrying a cell phone in your bra significantly increases the risk of developing breast cancer before the age of 40.
Interestingly, the study looked at the cases of four particular women, all under the age of 40 and with no family history of breast cancer, who regularly carried their smartphones in their bras. All four women subsequently “developed tumors in areas of their breasts immediately underlying the phones.”
Though a small sample, the case study clearly and unambiguously shows the dangers of having a cell phone in direct contact with the body over an extended period of time.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
The next obvious question is, what can women do to keep themselves healthy and safe from any ill effects of EMF? After all, no-one wants to have to give up use of their devices.
Fortunately, there are plenty of measures you can take that don’t involve throwing your cell phone off the edge of a very tall building.
Firstly, understand the dangers. Keeping yourself informed is always the first and most important step.
To recap the key points from above:
- Women are born with a limited number of eggs and can’t create more. That’s why protecting them is important. Though women’s eggs are protected inside the body, research suggests EMF can still cause them harm.
- Pregnant women should take extra care to avoid too much EMF exposure. Studies show increased risk of miscarriage and risk of health issues to the baby.
- Research links carrying a phone in your bra with increased risk of breast cancer. So avoid carrying your phone in your bra!
Now, here’s the good thing to know. Figuring out how to protect yourself is not that complicated, because the steps are the same for all three of the above health concerns.
Whether you want to avoid any unnecessary damage to your ovaries and eggs, protect a precious growing fetus, or lessen your risk of breast cancer, here’s what to do:
Minimize your exposure to, and maximize your distance from, EMF-emitting devices.
That means keep your cell phone away from your body when you can. Turn it off or put it on airplane mode when you’re not using it. Switch off your WiFi router at night. Don’t use your laptop on your lap.
If you prefer, you can also invest in EMF shielding products to make your devices safer when you do have to have them close by. A great example is covering your belly with the SYB Baby Blanket (perfect while pregnant, or for simply protecting your ovaries when you’re not).
The reality is, there are dozens of simple, cost-effective ways to cut down your EMF exposure. For the sake of your health, it’s more than worth putting at least some of them into practice.
If you want to find out more ways you can shield your body from EMF for free, check out our Health Living Tips series.