Laptops and WiFi: A Concern for Male Fertility

EMF radiation from laptops and wifi can cause male infertility
Male infertility may be caused by exposure to harmful levels of EMF radiation generated by repeated laptop use.
Male infertility may be caused by exposure to harmful levels of EMF radiation generated by repeated laptop use.

If you are looking to start a family or want to have children one day, you might want to re-think how often you use your laptop and how close you sit next to it. Male infertility is a common concern, which affects about 1 in 20 adults. In many cases, the male produces a sufficient number of sperm to achieve fertilization, however due to defects in the sperm, conception is prevented. Thus, much scientific and medical attention in the past decade has focused on environmental and genetic factors that may contribute to male infertility in this way. Evidence has now come to light that frequent exposure to electromagnetic radiation produced by laptops causes damage to sperm.

Originally, the investigations suggested that one of the environmental factors that contributed to the DNA damage in human sperm was increased exposure to Radio Frequency (RF) electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones. Years of collaborative work indicate that there is indeed a negative correlation between mobile phone usage and the various attributes associated with semen quality, especially motility. Mice studies indicated that there was internal damage to organelles within the sperm cell from radiation exposure. More recently, in humans, research has confirmed that the duration of exposure correlates with defects in sperm count, motility, viability, and normal morphology. This research has led to further areas of study with the radiation emitted from other common electronic devices.

Increasingly, research is showing that laptop computer use, especially in conjunction with wireless network connections or WiFi may be associated with a decrease to sperm motility and an increase in sperm DNA damage. Motility enables the sperm to swim to its intended target, the egg. Intact DNA allows the sperm to produce viable offspring. Obviously, sperm need both in order to successfully impregnate a healthy egg. The exposure to laptop radiation and WiFi has caused measurable changes to the integrity of human sperm.

Figure 1. After prolonged exposure to electromagnetic radiation, sperm exhibits many unfavorable changes. Credit: The Korean Society for Reproductive Medicine
Figure 1. After prolonged exposure to electromagnetic radiation, sperm exhibits severable unfavorable changes.
Credit: The Korean Society for Reproductive Medicine

In one recent South American study, human sperm samples were taken from healthy male donors. Samples were selected by their ability to swim in solution. Each specimen was separated into two pools.  One pool was exposed to an internet WiFi-connected laptop for 4 hours. The second group was used as a control and incubated under the same conditions without being exposed to the laptop. While the number of dead sperm were the same for both groups, significant decreases in sperm mobility and DNA fragmentation was observed in the pool exposed to laptops and WiFi.

In a separate South Korean journal, a review of recent research on sperm exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMF) was conducted. Over seventy publications indicated that traits associated with reproductive health were reported to be altered by EMF.  For instance: Rats exposed to EMF for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week at 900 MHz were reported to have experienced testicular tissue damage. This EMF dose is high relative for a rat, used in order to expedite results to stimulate the effects from long-term exposure, yet it is similar to levels that a human might be exposed to in their daily life from cell phones or laptops on a regular basis. In rats, increased exposure to Radio Frequency EMF at 2,450 MHz resulted in the re-arrangement of DNA sequence and the fragmentation of DNA in their testis.Human sperm was also studied and found to have similar deleterious effects when exposed to undue radiation.

Researchers were hoping to understand the effect of Radio Frequency (RF) electromagnetic waves (EMW) generated by laptops connected by wireless networks. Experts have evaluated the original researchers’ work to offer their opinions, noting the increasing public concern over increased exposure to electronic devices in modern day. Generally, reviewers agree that multiple in vitro studies have, in fact, found significant decreases in sperm motility and viability caused by laptop-type radiation. Independent analysts believe more research is needed to fully understand the effect radiation has on male reproductive fertility. Laptop and WiFi exposure is considered a public health issue.

Because of the growing body of research, all pointing in the same direction; it is considered advisable to avoid direct exposure to laptop radiation if you are concerned about your fertility. Minimizing direct exposure to laptops or using a laptop shield is essential to preventing unnecessary reproductive complications. Just as cell phones are not advised to be used too close to the body, close-contact laptop use should also be considered under advisement until evidence proves otherwise. Be safe in your use of electronic devices.

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