Cell phones have become a way of life for people around the world. Many men keep them handy at all times, tucked safely away in a front pocket of their trousers. A growing body of scientific study indicates this may not be the ideal place for a man to keep his mobile phone if he wants to father children. These ubiquitous mobile devices have been repeatedly linked to diminished fertility in men who carry them in front pants pockets and a recent study confirms those findings.

Dr. Fiona Mathews, a senior lecturer of mammalian biology at the University of Exeter in England, theorized the rising rate of conception difficulties in couples of middle- and high-income nations may be linked to the radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) emitted from cell phones. The rate of infertility in these nations averages about 14% today and has risen in recent years alongside the rising popularity of mobile phones. Male infertility accounts for about 40% of these cases.

Mathews and her research team analyzed data from ten studies in which 1,492 sperm samples of men seeking fertility assessment at research centers and fertility clinics were collected and evaluated. These samples were compared with sperm samples from men in the general population (not seeking fertility assessment). All samples were evaluated for quality using the same three-point measure fertility specialists use: motility, viability, and concentration. Cell phone exposure was documented for every sperm sample in the studies.

The research indicates two fertility factors are negatively affected by exposure to RF-EMR from cell phones kept in pants pockets:

  • Motility (the ability of the sperm to travel toward the egg) — In general, motility rates ranged from 50% to 85% but were an average of 8% lower in men who routinely kept their cell phones in a front pocket of their pants.
  • Viability (the ratio of live sperm to dead or damaged sperm) — The results were similar to those for motility.
  • Concentration (the number of sperm per unit of semen) — There was no measurable difference associated with RF-EMR exposure.

Although an 8% decrease in sperm quality may seem small in the general population, it could be enough to render a man infertile when his sperm motility and viability are on the borderline between fertile and infertile. It may not solve the problem entirely but there could be a safer place to keep one’s cell phone, at least until the family is complete.

Source: Mathews, Fiona, et al. “Effect of mobile telephones on sperm quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” ScienceDirect / Environmental International. Elsevier BV. Sep 2014. Web. Jun 26, 2014.