Reading 3 min.
in collaboration with
Dr Gérald Kierzek (Medical Director)
A new Swiss study carried out over more than ten years establishes a link between mobile phone use among young men and an alteration in the quality of their sperm. Pronounced use would be correlated with a lower sperm concentration.
Can our smartphones influence fertility, particularly that of men? If a decline in sperm quality has been perceived for several decades, linked to various environmental factors, the question of the smartphone and its place in daily life is also evaluated. A new study from the University of Geneva provides us with the latest data.
Fewer sperm in the heaviest smartphone users
The study in question was based on data from 2,886 Swiss men aged 18 to 22, recruited between 2005 and 2018 in six military conscription centers.e. The parameters of their sperm were thus cross-referenced with the use they made of their phone. “The men completed a detailed questionnaire about their lifestyle habits, their general health and more specifically the frequency with which they used their phone, as well as where they placed it when they were not using it. explains Serge Nef, professor at the Faculty of Medicine of UNIGE and SCAHT – Swiss Center for Applied Human Toxicology, who co-led the study.
These data revealed an association between frequent use and lower sperm concentration.
- The median sperm concentration was significantly higher in the group of men who did not use their phones more than once a week (56.5 million/mL) compared to men who used their phones more than 20 times a week. day (44.5 million/mL);
- This difference corresponds to a 21% decrease in sperm concentration for frequent users (>20 times/day) compared to rare users (<1 time>);
- Furthermore, this inverse association was found to be more pronounced during the first study period (2005-2007) and gradually decreased over time (2008-2011 and 2012-2018), suggesting that 4G would be less harmful. “This trend corresponds to the transition from 2G to 3G, then from 3G to 4G, which led to a reduction in the transmission power of telephones.explains the author.
No matter where you place your phone
The other information from this study is that the place of the smartphone does not matter, it seems. Analysis of the data indicates that the position of the phone, for example in a pants pocket, was not associated with greater impairment in sperm quality.
“However, the number of people in this cohort reporting that they did not carry their phone close to their body was too low to draw a really strong conclusion on this specific point. indicate the authors.
Too many confounding factors to establish causality?
The study, however, recognizes it: it shows that frequent use of cell phones is associated with a lower concentration and total number of sperm. However, researchers found no association between cell phone use and low sperm motility and morphology.
For Dr. Gérald Kierzek, medical director of Doctissimo, it is important to remain cautious when it comes to telephony and waves, the scope of which we do not yet know (by avoiding carrying your phone in your pants pocket or jacket, against his heart). But the reason for this drop in quality could also be found elsewhere:
“Is it the waves, or the lifestyle that impacts the quality of sperm today? Finally, the people who check their phones the most today are also those who are the most stressed, who have a greater mental load, or are experiencing professional stress. They also have less time to engage in physical activity… All of these factors can have an impact on fertility. These are what we call confounding factors which can tell us that we should stop focusing on the sole causality of the phone, but take into consideration numerous other risk factors. specifies our expert.
The impact of waves currently being studied
To know the real impact of waves, and by deduction the importance of other factors, a study financed by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) was launched in 2023. Its objective is to measure directly and precisely exposure to electromagnetic waves as well as types of use and assess their impact on male reproductive health and fertility potential. The data will be collected using an application that each future participant will download to their mobile phone.
The research team is actively recruiting participants for this study. The objective is also to better describe the mechanism of action behind these observations. “Do microwaves emitted by cell phones have a direct or indirect effect? Do they cause a significant increase in temperature in the testicles? Do they affect the hormonal regulation of sperm production? All this remains to be discovered.”conclude the researchers.