Men’s virility has always been one of their primary concerns, and one of the major ways it is measured is sperm count.
Now it turns out more men may have a much lower sperm count than they first thought.
According to a study presented by the Reproductive Research Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio at the recent American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s annual meeting, men who use their cell phone for more than four hours a day have an almost 45 percent lower sperm count than men who do not use cell phones at all.
Dr. Ashok Agarwal, the director of the clinic, said the study saw changes in sperm count, motility, or how much the sperm is moving, viability, or how likely the sperm is to impregnate an egg, and morphology, or the shape of the sperm cell.
“What we found was there was a significant reduction in these four parameters,” Agarwal said.
“I’m glad I’m only on my phone 15 or 20 minutes a day,” said Grant Savoy, 23, a senior communications studies major. “Most of my conversations are one, two minute conversations.”
The study, which surveyed 361 men using the clinic, also showed that men who use their cell phone two to four hours a day and less than two hours a day had about a 30 percent lower sperm count and a 20 percent lower sperm count, respectively.
Darrell Ogawa, 18, said he was surprised to hear of this study, but he would have been able to tell on his own.
“I use my phone, but I don’t see any difference,” Ogawa said. “When I’m with my girl the same amount comes out.”
Agarwal said they decided to do the study because no one had done a relevant, quality study on the subject, “although there have been reports on the effect of electromagnetic waves on other parts of the body.”
“I would think that radiation from a cell phone would be so miniscule that it wouldn’t even matter,” said Hayk Minasyan, 18, a political science major.
Microwaves, the type of radiation emitted by most cell phones, are used in large doses to heat food in microwaves, said Dr. Duane Doty, a professor in the physics and astronomy department who specializes in radiation.
While cell phones use the same type of radiation, Doty said, they use extremely sensitive instruments that greatly amplify the signal.
“The levels that I think are in the telephone I expect are factors of millions lower than (those in microwaves),” he said.
The study was just a preliminary study, Agarwal said, and they are currently conducting a further study that will tell them more about the effects of cell phones, and other clinics worldwide have shown an interest in conducting similar studies.
The current study, which should be ready for analysis in four to six months, looks at factors such as where the phone is located, whether the phone is being affected directly or whether the phone is affecting the hypothalamus, the gland that controls hormones, and lifestyle choices.
“There are many things that remain unclear because the data was not available,” he said.
“I’d like to know what it does to women’s ovaries,” Savoy said. “I bet you the effects on women have got to be worse because we got billions of sperm cells and they only have a few hundred eggs.”
Agarwal said it’s too soon to give advice for avoiding these effects, but that there is a clear way to avoid over-exposure.
“Based on a common sense precaution, we can recommend lowered use of cell phones,” advised Agarwal, who said he doesn’t use his cell phone for more than a half hour a day.
While this information concerns him, Ogawa said for him it really isn’t a problem at this point in his life.
“Right now it’s not an issue, but if you were trying to have a baby or something it might make a difference,” he said.
Doty said that while he does not have a cell phone it is not because he thinks they are dangerous.
“Life seems nicer without them,” he said. “I drive and keep my eyes on what’s in front of me, appreciate the surroundings when I walk around places. Life is a little simpler for me than most people.”