When not using it, most men toss their cell phones in a front pocket of their pants. It’s practical and where can you really put it?
However, some research suggests that keeping your phone near particularly important and treasured organs may not be the safest place.
Cell phones emit radio frequency waves that are known to have adverse effects on living tissue. RF waves have been linked to difficulty sleeping, headaches, increased blood pressure, DNA damage, and difficulty concentrating.
Until recently, most research has focused on the effects of RF waves on the brain as we keep cell phones close to our heads. The good news so far is that data from the National Cancer Institute and other health authorities have not scientifically proven that cell phone use causes cancer.
However, over the past decade, scientific research has moved further south, examining the effects of RF waves on sperm. And, folks, a significant amount of the literature warns that cell phones probably shouldn’t be below your belt.
Let’s be clear: some studies are older and there is no consensus or smoke gun study that says RF waves from cell phones are harmful to sperm. For every study that says “maybe” or “could” there is another that says “near” or “probably not”. Still, several studies conducted by respected researchers over the past 10 years seem to link RF waves to lower sperm counts.
For example, one study from 2018 found evidence that “RF electromagnetic exposure adversely affects sperm quality” while another study concluded that “long exposure” to electromagnetic waves from cell phones resulted in a decrease in the number of mature sperm was connected. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29789776
And in 2014, researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK reviewed the results of 10 studies, including 1,492 sperm samples. Although the authors acknowledged that their assessment had limitations, they found that the overall result “strongly suggests” that putting your cell phone in your front pocket “negatively affects sperm quality”. The researchers found that men with borderline infertility problems are more likely to be affected.
In the same year, the Central European Journal of Urology concluded that there was a “correlation” between cell phone radiation and decreased sperm motility.
So we don’t forget: the first mobile phone was introduced in 1973. The number of sperm has decreased over the past few decades.
Before you panic, be aware that the two important words to learn from this research paper are “Suggestions” and “Correlation”. However, several other studies suggest that plugging in your cell phone could result in a decrease in semen quality (the fluid that transports sperm), poor sperm motility and viability, decreased sperm count, and lower acrosin (an enzyme needed for egg binding ) is linked to penetration activity, increased sperm DNA fragmentation (related to sperm viability) and increased expression of the gene that aids in semen clustering, important in cell debris removal.
If you don’t have a PhD in chemistry or biology, let’s put that in plain English: the sperm collected from the men in these studies were more likely to be belly button mushrooms than Olympic breast swimmers. They were much less likely to get the job done.
If you want to be on the safe side, several companies are now making protective underwear that supposedly blocks radio radiation using electromagnetic fields (EMF).
In at least one such product, the cotton fabric is interwoven with silver threads. Silver is a metal that is commonly used to shield against electromagnetic radiation.
If silver-lined underwear isn’t your style, an RF wave protective cover can protect your brain and genitals from radiation. Several companies make such cases; At least one company says their cases block 99% of RF wave radiation.
RF waves may not be the only threat your cell phone poses to sperm. You know how people say it’s not the heat; It’s the humidity. The same goes for cell phones. We know that the slightest increase in scrotal temperature can decrease sperm production. Anything that raises the temperature – working with a laptop on your lap, wearing tight underwear or clothes, sitting at a desk all day, and even the heat that the cellphone generates in your front pocket – can affect sperm viability and mobility.
Cell phones are a part of modern life. If you or your significant other is concerned about the threat to your offspring, there are a few simple things you can do: buy shirts with a breast pocket to carry your cell phone; buy silver loose fitting underwear; and invest in an anti-radiation phone case. Then relax. The afterglow that you feel is radiation free.
Robert Calandra is an award-winning journalist, author, and playwright. His work has been published in national and regional magazines and newspapers.