A very common question I hear from patients, male and female, is “Does the radiation or cellular waves from my phone cause infertility?” This is a very new and in-depth topic as new research continues to come out on this topic. A meta-analysis and review from 2014 found some very interesting results on this topic. Below I have tried to summarize the main points to help you understand the impact cellular devices may have on your fertility and reproductive health.
The impact of radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation from our cell phones is a form of “environmental exposure” in that the majority of the population owns and carries a cellular device on them at most times. Even though the radiation from cellular devices are within the standard ranges so that they are not ‘ionizing’ (i.e. cause breaks in the DNA which can promote cancer growth), they have the potential to cause other detrimental effects on human and animal health.
The upper-limit for radio frequency radiation is measured by specific-absorption rate (SAR). The SAR for devices is estimated to be around 1.4 Watts/kg, and the upper-limit is 2.0 W/kg.
Non-ionizing radiation from our cellular devices can lead to 2 categories of effects: thermal and non-thermal effects.
Thermal effect from radiation means the increase in skin and/or tissue temperature as a result of the exposure from the radiation. For example the temperature on facial skin has been observed to go up by about 2 degrees celsius after 6 minutes of cellphone use.
Non-thermal effects relate to the effect the radiation and cellular waves can have on the actual tissue, its proteins, DNA, and energy production. The analysis of approximately 10 different research trials shows a negative correlation between exposure to cellular radiation and sperm motility (how well the sperm cells move) and viability (how much of the sperm is living). More specifically, cellular radiation exposure was associated with about a 8% decrease in sperm motility and 5% decrease in sperm viability. While those numbers may not sound very large, when treating infertility, a 5 to 8% change can mean a whole lot when preparing for an Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or trying to conceive naturally, for example.
How do cellphones lower sperm health?
The decrease in sperm health from cellphones is believed to be a result of the non-thermal effects of the cellular radiation. This type of radiation has been shown to lower the DNA integrity of sperm cells. It also causes an increase in the reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced in tissues and cellular structures (i.e. the mitochondria, the power house of the cell shows an increase in ROS and damage when exposed to cellular radiation). The impact of the ROS and lowered DNA integrity leads to a decrease in sperm motility and viability, but not necessarily a significant impact on sperm concentration.
Does heat from the cellphone lower sperm health?
The research has found that the increase in heat production from cellphone use is negligible in most cases. This is because the increase in temperature is most likely from the proximity of the actual device to the skin which traps heat, and not a result from the radiation. If heat was causing damage to sperm health, sperm concentration should be one of the parameters most affected.
This article is in no way a replacement for medical advice or medical care, it is advised that anyone concerned about their Health should speak with their Naturopathic Doctor or Primary Care Provider.