Background: Cellphones emit radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) for transmission of data for social media communication, web browsing, and music/podcast streaming. Use of Bluetooth ear buds has probably prolonged the time during which cellphones reside in the trouser pockets of men. It has been postulated that RF-EMR increases oxidative stress and induces free radical formation.
Objective: To investigate the effect of wireless-spectrum (4G, 5G, and WiFi) RF-EMR emitted by modern smartphones on sperm motility and viability and explore whether these effects can be mitigated using a physical barrier or distance.
Design, setting, and participants: Semen samples were obtained from fertile normozoospermic men aged 25-35 yr. A current-generation smartphone in talk mode was used as the RF-EMR source. A WhatsApp voice call was made using either 4G, 5G, or WiFi wireless connectivity. We determined if exposure effects were mitigated by either a cellphone case or greater distance from the semen sample.
Outcome measurements and statistical analysis: The semen samples were analyzed according to 2010 World Health Organization laboratory guidelines. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS v.28.
Results and limitations: We observed decreases in sperm motility and viability with WiFi exposure but not with exposure to 4G or 5G RF-EMR. With large variability among smartphones, continued research on exposure effects is needed.
Conclusions: Our exploratory study revealed that sperm motility and viability are negatively impacted by smartphones that use the WiFi spectrum for data transmission.
Patient summary: We looked at the effect of cellphone use on sperm motility and viability. We found that cellphones using WiFi connectivity for data usage have harmful effects on semen quality in men.
Keywords: Cellphones; Environmental pollutants; Male fertility; Radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation; Sperm.
Copyright © 2022 European Association of Urology. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.