A new study found that high smartphone usage could affect one's sperm count.
The study, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Fertility and Sterility, showed that 18- to 22-year-old men who used their mobile phones over 20 times a day had a 21% higher risk for a low overall sperm count. It also found that men who used their phones that much had a 30% higher risk for a low sperm concentration.
Men who used their phones five times a day at most or less than once a week, meanwhile, had much higher sperm counts and concentration.
The study didn’t specify whether the phones were used for calling, texting, or both.
Researchers from the University of Geneva and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute recruited a total of 2,886 participants from military conscription centers between 2005 and 2018. The men were asked to track their phone usage, as well as monitor their lifestyle and general health.
They also found that the link between sperm count and phone use was the greatest between 2005 and 2007. It weakened over time with the transition from 2G to 3G, then eventually to 4G networks.
It was believed that sending and receiving phone signals, which could cause heating, might impact sperm quality. More modern networks already use less power to transmit signals.
The study also suggested that where phones are being kept—like trouser pockets, belt carriers, or jacket pockets—doesn’t affect sperm count or concentration.
Researchers noted the study was observational, meaning it cannot definitely point to phone usage as a cause for lower sperm count alone.
They noted that male sperm count has fallen by over 50% worldwide in the last 50 years. Potential causes include pollution, alcohol, drugs, increasing temperatures due to global warming, stress, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and exposure to chemicals like pesticides.