Can Wi-Fi devices affect male fertility?

Morgan Liotta

2/05/2019 1:46:13 PM

A new study has examined the effects of Wi-Fi devices’ electromagnetic waves on human sperm.

Kumiko Nakata
Researcher Kumiko Nakata hopes her study can help to raise awareness of some of the harmful effects of the digital world.

There are now more mobile phones than people in the world, and usage is forecasted to grow in coming years.
These phones, as if anyone needed reminding, are here to stay.
The years have seen many concerns raised about the possible harms caused by mobile phones – stress, brain cancer, hearing problems – with some theories having been debunked.
However, a new Japanese study to be reported at the ASPIRE 2019 congress has looked at the effects electromagnetic waves from a Wi-Fi device have on male fertility. It is the first detailed study of its kind.

‘The findings indicate electromagnetic waves from a portable Wi-Fi router decrease the motile rate and increase the death rate of human sperm,’ Kumiko Nakata, Head of the Research Division for Reproductive Medicine at the Yamashita Shonan Yume Research Centre in Japan, told newsGP.
Fifty-one male patients from a research clinic participated in the study from August to November 2018. Each of the men, whose average age was 38.4 years, were previously involved in IVF or artificial insemination procedures at the clinic.
Sperm samples were taken from the men and they were divided into three groups:

  • Control group, whose sperm samples were not exposed to electromagnetic waves from the Wi-Fi device
  • Shield group, whose sperm was protected by a small Wi-Fi shield that intercepts electromagnetic waves
  • Exposed group, whose sperm was exposed to the electromagnetic waves
The exposed group’s sperm samples were placed near a pocket Wi-Fi router, similar to how a mobile phone would be carried in a man’s trousers, and exposed to electromagnetic waves over periods of 30 minutes, 60 minutes, two hours and 24 hours. Sperm motion was then tested using an advanced sperm motility analysis system.
The results found that after 30 minutes’ exposure to the electromagnetic waves, the sperm motility rate of the control and shield group was 87%, while that of the exposed group was 88%. There was also little difference in motility rates across the three groups after 60 minutes.
After two hours of electromagnetic exposure, however, greater discrepancies emerged. Motility rate of the control group was 53.3%, the shield group 44.9%, and the exposed group 26.4%.
After 24 hours, the dead sperm rate of the control group was 8.4%, the shield group 18.2%, and the exposed group significantly higher at 23.3%.

The sperm samples of those in the study’s exposed group were placed near a pocket Wi-Fi router, similar to how a mobile phone would be carried in a man’s trousers.

‘Over a relatively short time, a Wi-Fi shield can offer some protection from the harmful effects of the waves,’ Ms Nakata said. ‘However, our study has shown there is mounting evidence that the effects on sperm may be having a significant effect on human reproduction.’
Ms Nakata said that although this particular study was conducted over a short period, she predicts greater harms from Wi-Fi will occur over longer exposure.
‘Judging by the results of the current study, it is fair to assume that the longer the exposure is, there is a higher risk for potential negative effects,’ she said.
‘And what I mean by longer exposure is not only a few day, weeks or months – we are talking about years.
‘So looking at billions of people over the next few decades [using devices that rely on Wi-Fi connection], the impact could be huge when it comes to fertility rates.’

infertility men’s health reproductive health research

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