Several recent studies have indicated that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) have an adverse effect on human sperm quality, which could translate into an effect on fertilization potential. This study evaluated the effect of RF-EMF on sperm-specific characteristics to assess the fertilizing competence of sperm. Highly motile human spermatozoa were exposed for 1 h to 900-MHz mobile phone radiation at a specific absorption rate of 2.0 W/kg and examined at various times after exposure. The acrosome reaction was evaluated using flow cytometry. The radiation did not affect sperm propensity for the acrosome reaction. Morphometric parameters were assessed using computer-assisted sperm analysis. Significant reduction in sperm head area (9.2 ± 0.7 μm² vs. 18.8 ± 1.4 μm²) and acrosome percentage of the head area (21.5 ± 4% vs. 35.5 ± 11.4%) was reported among exposed sperm compared with unexposed controls. Sperm-zona binding was assessed directly after exposure using the hemizona assay. The mean number of zona-bound sperm of the test hemizona and controls was 22.8 ± 12.4 and 31.8 ± 12.8 (p < 0.05), respectively. This study concludes that although RF-EMF exposure did not adversely affect the acrosome reaction, it had a significant effect on sperm morphometry. In addition, a significant decrease in sperm binding to the hemizona was observed. These results could indicate a significant effect of RF-EMF on sperm fertilization potential.
© 2010 The Authors. International Journal of Andrology © 2010 European Academy of Andrology.