Attention all men: You might want to keep your laptops, smartphones and other Internet-browsing tools away from the family jewels.
A new study, albeit a small one, suggests that using Wi-Fi may damage sperm and decrease a man’s fertility. The cause, according to Reuters Health, is electromagnetic radiation generated by wireless communication.
In the study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, researchers took semen samples from 29 healthy volunteers and placed them under a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop connected to the Internet. After four hours, the semen suffered – 25 percent of the sperm were no longer swimming and 9 percent of them showed DNA damage. Semen samples kept near a laptop that was turned on but not connected to the Internet showed minimal damage, as did samples that were stored separately.
“Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the Internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality,” the authors wrote in the study, noting that they were unsure if their findings extended to all wireless devices or if there were other conditions affecting sperm quality.
The findings fuel anxiety for the millions of men who keep a number of Wi-Fi-enabled devices on their laps, in their pockets and in close proximity to their nether regions.
According the American Urological Association, nearly one in six U.S. couples have difficulty conceiving, and about half of the time, the man’s fertility is the problem. For optimal fertility, a man should have 70 million sperm per millimeter. Some research has found that environmental factors can lower sperm counts below this level.
A study published in early November indicated that the heat generated by holding a laptop on the knees was enough to raise testicle temperatures to dangerous, sperm-damaging levels, even after 10 to 15 minutes.
Smoking and excessive alcohol are obvious culprits in depleting sperm, said Shanna Swan, director of the Center for Reproductive Epidemiology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. She also told ABC News that men who are worried about their fertility might think about eating organic foods to avoid pesticides that might lead to less viable sperm. Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise doesn’t hurt either.
Some scientists say they don’t believe using a laptop will make men infertile. But just in case, maybe consider using our computer on your desk.
ABC News’ Dan Childs contributed to this report.