Spirm Count and a Cell Phone

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Is your cell phone causing your spirm count to drop?

A Tough Call

For the past two decades, fertility rates have dropped in industrialized nations (Europe and the United States) without any clear explanation why. While it's possible that factors such as pesticides or obesity may be influencing the population decline, many scientists are looking at something you may have in your hand at this very moment: the cell phone. Could it be damaging your sperm? While the research isn't definitive, click to read facts that Dr. Ken Spaeth, a Research Fellow at Harvard School of Public Health, says you should keep in mind.

Cell Phones and Sperm

Researchers have found that cell phone signals can alter four essential features of fertile, grade A sperm: 1. Mobility -- How well they move; 2. Viability -- How tough they are; 3. Sperm count -- How many there are; 4. Morphology -- Proper composition.

What Studies Show

In men who use cell phones, multiple studies have shown that at least one, and sometimes all four of these categories were impaired compared with the sperm of men not using cell phones at all, and the groups that clocked more hours on the phone had correspondingly worse results.

Making the Call

What's causing the damage? Theories vary. Many researchers suspect radio frequency (RF) energy, a form of electromagnetic (EM) energy necessary for making a call. EM waves are a common part of modern life and include technologies from radios to X-ray machines. The higher the EM energy emitted, though, the more damaging it can be. While cell phone RFs are considered low energy, young sperm cells are fragile and easily damaged, and thus may be sensitive to even low energy waves. Another possibility is that cell phone use impairs the brain's regulation of the hormones that control sperm production.

Connecting the Signal

Other research suggests that radio frequencies increase the temperature of the newly forming sperm, essentially frying them. (And the closer you're keeping the phone to your boys, such as in your front pocket, the higher the chance for impact.)

More than Just Your Boys

While the jury is still out, there's also evidence that radio frequencies may impact the brain, the heart, blood pressure and the ability to concentrate, as well as slowing our reflexes.

Change Your Plan?

Should you throw away your phone? That's probably unnecessary (not to mention impractical), but being cautious about what's still a relatively new technology isn't a bad idea. When the option is available, use a land line rather than your cell phone. (This also saves you calling-plan minutes.)

Use Your Head

An earpiece is never unreasonable and may be protecting that other sexual organ, your brain.

A Little Breathing Room

Another reasonable option: maintaining some distance from your phone even when it's not in use. When you can, try to avoid keeping your phone in your lap or pocket. Given the minimal research data available, it's tough to say how far a phone should be kept from you, and there are comfort, practical and dorkiness considerations, to be sure. Your Man-bag, your backpack and even a clip-on holder that's positioned at your side rather than in front are all better options than keeping it in your front pocket.

Judging the Signal

Why isn't everyone concerned about these findings? First, the studies on this are few and small-scale, so many are unconvinced. Additionally, evaluating the safety of cell phones is tough for several reasons: 1. The technology changes rapidly and varies between different makes and models. 2. Callers don't use cell phones at the same rate or exactly the same way. Even use by a single user varies in frequency within a day and from day to day. 3. It may be years before any health problems arise. So health effects may not be picked up for a potentially long time. Given what is known and what is not known, it's not unreasonable to be as careful as you can. -Source: Dr. Ken Spaeth, www.asylum.com/2008/02/26/mens-most-embarrassing-health-problems/

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