November 29, 2011
Listen Up Men! Your Laptop’s Wi-Fi Could Be Killing Your Sperm
Wi-Fi technology could be dangerous to a man´s sperm quality, suggests a new study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility.
Argentinean scientists, led by Conrado Avendano of the Nascentis Center for Reproductive Medicine in Cordoba, describe in their report how they got semen samples from 29 healthy men, placed a few drops from those samples under a laptop with a Wi-Fi connection, and then used the laptop to do various everyday tasks.
Within four hours of use, 25 percent of the sperm were no longer swimming around, compared to just 14 percent from semen samples stored at room temperature away from the computer. And nine percent of the semen showed DNA damage, three times more than the comparison group.
The scientists noted that placing the sperm under the laptop without an active Wi-Fi connection did not result in significant levels of sperm damage or death.
Avendano and his team say electromagnetic radiation emitted by wireless communication is the key culprit.
"Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality," Avendano and his team wrote.
“At present we do not know whether this effect is induced by all laptop computers connected by Wi-Fi to the internet or what use conditions heighten this effect,” they added.
Avendano´s study is not the first to study the risks mobile communications can have on sperm quality.
A Canadian study from last year suggested that radiation from wireless devices cause DNA damage in sperm.
Heat generated by some computers can also have damaging effects on semen. A 2004 American study found that placing a laptop on the user´s lap could boost temperatures around the scrotum by as much as three degrees.
But Dr. Robert Oates, of Boston Medical Center and the president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, said the picture isn´t totally clear on the new findings.
Oates, who has fathered two children despite frequently using a laptop and an iPad, told Reuters Health he doesn´t believe laptops are a significant threat to male reproductive health.
“This is not real-life biology, this is a completely artificial setting,” he told Frederik Joelving of Reuters about Avendano's study. “It is scientifically interesting, but to me it doesn't have any human biological relevance.”
He noted that no study has yet looked at whether laptop use has any influence on fertility or pregnancy outcomes. “Suddenly all of this angst is created for real-life actual persons that doesn´t have to be,” Oates added.
Nearly one in six couples in the US have trouble conceiving a child, and nearly half the time the problem stems from the man℠s reproductive health, according to figures from the American Urological Association.
Researchers say that lifestyle does matter when it comes to reproductive health.
A report appearing Fertility and Sterility earlier this month showed that men who eat a diet rich in fruit and grains and low in red meat, alcohol and coffee have a better chance of getting their partner pregnant during fertility treatment.
“You should be keeping yourself healthy,” including staying lean, eating healthy foods, exercising, not taking drugs and not smoking, agreed Oates.
But as far as laptops go, I wouldn´t be too worried, Oates told Reuters. “I don't know how many people use laptops on their laps anyway.”
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