Cell Phone Usage and Male Infertility

Here’s a scary topic for us guys out there….becoming infertile. As you all (I hope) know, being infertile means not being able to produce children from your semen. But here’s a common myth that I was told a lot as a teenager by my Grandmother: using your cell phone too much will make you infertile. Now I always just chalked this up to being just another story Grandma told me to make sure I was a good kid and not using my phone too often, but what if it wasn’t? Could using your iPhone too often cause you to not be able to have kids? Does the radioactivity vented out of your phone cause you damage? This is the question I want to answer.



Could cell phone use make us infertile? Source

As always, first we should look at this from a scientific perspective and form a hypothesis. The null hypothesis, which is what most of us believe, is that cell phones will not cause male infertility. The alternate hypothesis lines more up with my grandma’s viewpoint, that a prolonged period of cell phone use causes males to become infertile. Obviously, we cannot experiment with this on humans, as you can’t just ethically let men get cancer if the data supports it. More likely, we’ll have to either experiment with animals and/or observe cell phone use with men. Finally, we want to measure the independent variable (the phone/mobile device) and the dependent variable (becoming infertile).

Background: After searching, I came across a study conducted in India in 2010 on male Wistar rats. They aimed to look for lower sperm counts, the weight of testicular organs, and destruction of Leydig cells in rats after an extended period of time around a mobile phone.

Before we get into what they found, I want to talk briefly about another study they used as background info by Agarwal in 2007 on 361 men at infertility clinics. This was an observational study and concluded that the use of cell phone by decreasing sperm cells’ motility, morphology, and even sperm counts. This shows that, indeed, cell phone use does affect male infertility. However, it’s incredibly possible that there were other factors that the researchers weren’t able to control, given it being an observational study. Therefore, we need to look at the study in India on rats to get an idea if, given everything else is controlled, we can see the correlation between cell phone use and infertility.

The Procedure: As mentioned above, this was an experimental study done in India on rats. These rats were split in half, with 6 being the control and 6 being experimented on. This was done randomly and was repeated multiple times to make it blind. After the groups were sorted, the rats to be experimented on were put in an air conditioned room where they were all put with a single mobile device. They were exposed for 35 straight days, where they were then euthanized in order to be tested. This is a very straightforward experiment, with a control group and a randomized blind trial. Now, let’s move on to the results.


What effect do mobile phones have on the rats? Source

The Results: Quite surprisingly, the results seem to support the alternate hypothesis. In the 35 days exposed to the mobile device, the rats had a significant decline in sperm cell counts. The counts were reduced from over 160 to only 70 counts of sperm, showing a 50% decrease. This is significant, as this supported the observational study mentioned earlier that there is a big correlation between mobile phone use and a decrease in sperm count. So, although this could be just due to chance, we have to conclude that the alternate hypothesis was overwhelmingly supported here. This is huge, as men of my age are significantly attached to our phones, and are the first generation to have cell phones from around 12 years old onwards almost 24 hours a day. Will we see a decrease

This is huge, as men of my age are significantly attached to our phones, and are the first generation to have cell phones from around 12 years old onwards almost 24 hours a day. Will we see a decrease in the ability to have children in our generation over the last? We’ll have to wait around 5-10 years to find the data to support that, but for now, I’m going to be worried about the results. As it turns out, sometimes Grandma is right!


5 thoughts on “Cell Phone Usage and Male Infertility

  1. Christopher Ronkainen

    This topic is a very interesting considering it largely applies to our generation as you stated in your post. I myself find myself attached to my phone for numerous hours a day and if cell phones truly cause infertility problems, I would be very worried. Anyways, I found it very interesting that the experiment done on the rats was such a small sample size. It seems to be a relatively easy experiment to do, and why they would only use a total of 12 rats is surprising to me. In this study they looked at a total of 304 males and confirmed a decrease in the percentage of sperm cells in vital progressing motility within the semen was correlated to the use of cell phones from a group of 48 people who were said to regularly use their cell phone for more than two years. Scary to think when a large portion of our generation has been exposed to cell phones for much longer!

  2. Jessica Heckler

    Interesting blog topic!! I think this is something that everyone in our generation should keep in mind since we don’t really know any of the longterm effects of the radiation given off by cell phones. Cell phones haven’t been around long enough for us to see the adverse effects, leaving our generation as the guinea pigs, so it might be helpful to take extra precautionary steps in order to try to limit our exposure to this radiation. I never thought of this from a male perspective, but I know a lot of people who believe that women who keep cell phones tucked in their bras will get breast cancer from it. Again, its hard to tell if this could actually be true, but as far as I’m concerned, it isn’t hard to carry your phone, and if it means saving you from years of cancer treatment and possibly saving your life, it is probably worth it!! I know after hearing about studies like this, I stopped carrying my phone in my back pocket unless it was absolutely necessary because I don’t want to take any chances.
    Like what Andrew said about smoking, it was really popular and everyone advertised for it until they realized the harmful effects coming from it. Although I doubt cell phones are as harmful to the body as cigarettes are, it is possible that in 10-20 years people start to realize a very harmful effect of cell phones. Using cell phones, like smoking, is an addiction, and I don’t know what society would do without them if they were causing harm! I guess only time will tell!

  3. Samantha Francesca Sichenze

    Great job! You’re blog topic was very interesting and I liked how you explained each segment of the experiment thoroughly. I was also very surprised that a cellphone can cause a decrease in fertility. I also liked how you tied in specific things we learned in class, like null hypothesis. Being a woman, I was concerned if it affects women as well. In this article, http://www.aasc.ucla.edu/cab/200708230012.html, it tells us how radiation affects pregnant women and even worse, children. In this day in age, everyone is too obsessed with their phone. We feel that it needs to be on us 24/7. If only people knew how it could affect their chances of creating offsprings maybe they would decrease their phone use.

  4. Meredith Herndon

    Hi Isaac! Even though I’m a girl, your article really caught my attention because I’ve always been told that too much phone usage would make me infertile too! Since leggings are such a huge hit with girls these days, and there’s no place to put our phones, putting then in out waistband has become a common practice. But the issue is that the phone is right around where our ovaries are, causing people to worry that the radiation is harmful. One time in class, Andrew even mentioned the story of a woman who got breast cancer from putting her phone in her bra. While I don’t doubt your studies findings, I don’t know if I truly believe in all of it since the radiation let off by a phone is a very small amount, and almost everything lets off radiation nowadays. Still, I will be very interested in seeing what scientists find on this topic in future years.!

  5. Lucas Thomas Hansen

    Hey, what’s up Isaac. Since I am a guy myself, who uses my phone way more than normal, this article really caught my attention. I didn’t think it could be possible to relate cell phone usage to infertility but I guess anything is possible. I believe raising this question is very important because basically all males in today’s society over use cellular devices and it is good to raise awareness on the topic, great work.

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