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Exposure to WiFi reduces sperm motility and viability in the lab

Laxmee Ramkhelawon

Progress Educational Trust

01 November 2022

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[BioNews, London]

A smart phone carrying out a voice call over WiFi, has been shown to negatively affect sperm motility and viability in semen in the laboratory.

Researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Florida, have shown that while semen in vitro was affected by exposure to a mobile phone carrying out a voice call over WiFi, it was not affected by exposure to the same voice call carried out using 4G or 5G. They hypothesised this could be due to increased heat emanating from a voice during a call carried out over WiFi, as well as radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) emitted by the phone.

'The data shows that sperm-exposure to WiFi reduces sperm motility and viability. I have no problem with this conclusion on the basis of the information presented in this abstract, but we need to be cautious about how this is interpreted in a real-world setting,' said Allan Pacey professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield and Progress Educational Trust trustee who was not involved in the research.

He added: 'It is important to note that sperm in the male body before ejaculation do not swim. Therefore, it is a leap of faith to assume that the damaging effects of WiFi signals might affect unactivated sperm in men's bodies in the same way as the authors of this study have shown for ejaculated sperm in the laboratory.'

The abstract of the study was presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's 2022 scientific congress held 22-26 October 2022 and published in the journal Fertility and Sterility. Researchers had set out to investigate the impact of RF-EMR, which is emitted by smart phones accessing WiFi, 4G and 5G, on sperm motility and viability from ejaculated semen in the laboratory from fertile men between the ages of 25-35 years old. They used a current generation smartphone to carry out a six hour WhatsApp voice call via WiFi, 4G or 5G to generate RF-EMR for the experiment.

The team found a statistically significant association between exposure to WiFi and a decrease in sperm viability, a 13 percent reduction, and sperm motility, a 12 percent reduction. This association was not observed in semen samples that were exposed to 4G or 5G RF-EMR. Noticing the phones became warmer when carrying out the voice call over WiFi than over 4G or 5G networks, researchers hypothesised the effect observed on sperm was due to heat emitted by the phone. To test this researchers also incubated ejaculated semen in a 37C incubator, and found this also affected motility of sperm.

Authors also found the use of a phone case, or increasing the distance of the semen from the smartphone, reduced the effect of WiFi on sperm.

As different phone models behaved differently, the researchers noted that continued research on the association between WiFi exposure and lower sperm motility was needed.

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Date Added: 01 November 2022   Date Updated: 01 November 2022
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