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Epidemiological study (observational study)

Habits of cell phone usage and sperm quality - does it warrant attention?

Published in: Reprod Biomed Online 2015; 31 (3): 421-426

Aim of study (acc. to author)

A study was conducted in Israel to investigate the association between habits of cell phone usage and semen quality.

Further details

Semen quality was assessed using four parameters (volume, concentration, motility and morphology) according to the criteria of the World Health Organization.

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation:
  • prevalence

Exposure

Assessment

  • questionnaire: daily habits of cell phone usage such as the number of devices used and the duration of daily use (talking); usual location of the device while talking, carrying and charging; use of hands-free devices and earphones; number of years that an individual owned a cell phone, talking while the device is being charged and talking in low reception areas (e.g. elevators and underground floors)

Exposure groups

Reference group 1 total daily talking time: ≤ 1 h
Group 2 total daily talking time: > 1 h
Reference group 3 talk while charging the device: no
Group 4 talk while charging the device: yes
Reference group 5 distance from groin when not in use: > 50 cm
Group 6 distance from groin when not in use: ≤ 50 cm

Population

  • Group:
    • men
  • Age: 25–51 years
  • Characteristics: male patients who underwent a first-time semen analysis as a part of infertility workup
  • Observation period: 2011 - 2012
  • Study location: Israel
  • Data source: Fertility and in vitro Fertilization division of Carmel Medical Centre, Haifa, Israel
  • Exclusion criteria: chronic or acute medical conditions that have been associated with a decrease in semen quality (e.g. long-standing diabetes mellitus, hypertension, varicocele, orchitis); smoking > 10 pack-years, consumption of > 1 liter of alcoholic beverage/day

Study size

Total 106
Evaluable 80
Statistical analysis method:
  • logistic regression

Conclusion (acc. to author)

No associations were found between any of the factors investigated and between semen volume and motility. Abnormal semen morphology was found in only one man and therefore not further considered.
Talking for more than 1 h/day and during device charging was associated with lower semen concentration. Among men who reported holding their phones less than 50 cm from the groin, a non-significantly lower sperm concentration was found. Multivariate analysis revealed that talking while charging the device (OR 4.13, CI 1.28-13.3) and smoking were risk factors for lower sperm concentration (OR 3.04, CI 1.1-8.13).
The authors conclude that certain aspects of mobile phone usage may bear adverse effects on sperm concentration.

Study funded by

  • not stated/no funding

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