The Effect of Cellular Devices on Male Infertility

Ken Ferguson
June 11, 2012

Submitted as coursework for PH250, Stanford University, Spring 2012

Fig. 1: Sperm Quality Parameters.


Over the past two decades, the implications of cell phone RF radiation has come under intense scrutiny. Specifically, the public wants to know how cell phones may increase the risk of cancer. [1-3] Though basic physics tells us cell phone emissions cannot cause cancer, the debate is still lively, and the general public still seems unsure as to how cell phones are affecting their bodies. [4]

A newer question that has taken up news headlines in recent years is how cell phones affect sperm quality in men. [5-7] Many case studies have been completed in this area, and results seem to suggest that prolonged exposure to cell phone radiation may have negative effects on sperm motility.


About 15% of couples are affected by infertility, with about half resulting from male factor infertility. [8] Many believe this infertility may be due, in part, to cell phone radiation affecting sperm quality in males.

Effect on Rats

An easy way to study radiation effects is on rats in the lab. In 2003, Dasdag et al. performed an experiment where rats were exposed to full body radiation from cell phones. [9] The rats were subject to a cell phone carrier frequency of 890 - 915 MHz, with a modulation frequency of 217 Hz. The maximum averaged power was 250 mW, with a peak power of 2 W. The rats were exposed to the radiation for 20 minutes per day for 1 month. After 1 month the rats were euthanized and a testicular biopsy was performed, and there was no statistical difference between the control and experimental group. [9]

An experiment by Yan et al. in 2007 was conducted to see how cell phone radiation affected sperm quality. [10] The rats were placed in a PVC holding tube and exposed to a total of 6 hours of cell phone radiation per day for 18 weeks. After the 18 weeks were over, the rats were euthanized for tissue testing. They found that sperm motility was significantly different between the control and experimental group. [10] A majority of the sperm cells were dead in the experimental group, while most of the sperm cells were alive in the control group. This suggests that carrying cell phones near reproductive organs could affect male fertility in a negative manner.

Human Case Studies

From 2004 to 2005, Agarwal et al. performed an observational study on 361 men attending an infertility clinic. [8] The average age of the men in the study was 32 years, and men with a history of smoking, alcohol consumption, diabetes, hypertension and other past problems were excluded from the study. Semen was collected from the patients after a 5 day abstinence period and evaluated by 8 parameters. The patients were divided into four groups passed on their daily cell phone usage (no use, less than two hours a day, two to four hours a day, and greater than four hours a day). Of the 8 tested parameters, 4 were exactly the same amongst each group (volume, liquefaction time, pH, and viscosity). However, sperm count, motility, viability, and percent normal morphology were significantly higher the less often cell phones were used. A chart of this can be seen in Fig. 1. The values of the sperm parameters are 1 = volume, 2 = liquefaction time, 3 = pH, 4 = viscosity, 5 = sperm count, 6 = motility, 7 = viability, and 8 = percent normal morphology.These results seem to suggest that cell phone usage by men is associated with a decrease in semen quality. [8]


The general public has been interested in how cell phones affect the human body for a couple of decades, now, and the question as to how cell phones affect sperm quality in males has become a hot topic of research. Though it seems that cell phones do not directly affect the testes, it does seem to have an effect on the quality of sperm cells and other parameters. [8-10]

© 2012 Ken Ferguson. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] J. E. Moulder et al., "Cell Phones and Cancer: What is the Evidence for a Connection?" Radiat. Res. 151, 513 (1999).

[2] V. G. Khurana et al., "Cell Phones and Brain Tumors: A Review Including the Long-Term Epidemiologic Data," Surgical Neurology 72, 205 (2009).

[3] J. D. Boice, Jr., and R. E. Tarone, "Cell Phones, Cancer, and Children," J. Natl. Cancer Ins. 103, 1211 (2011).

[4] S. Mukherjee, "Do Cellphones Cause Brain Cancer?" New York Times, 13 Apr 11.

[5] A. Agarwal et al., "Cell Phones and Male Infertility: A Review of Recent Innovations in Technology and Consequences," Int. Braz. J. Urol. 37 432 (2011).

[6] K. Makker et al., "Cell Phones: Modern Man's Nemesis," Reproductive BioMedicine Online 18, 148 (2009).

[7] D. Ngo, "Report: Cell Phone Use Could Reduce Sperm Count," CNET, 18 Aug 11.

[8] A. Agarwal et al., "Effect of Cell Phone Usage on Semen Analysis in Men Attending Infertility Clinic: An Observational Study," Fertility and Sterility 89, 124 (2008).

[9] S. Dasdag et al., "Whole Body Exposure of Rats to Microwaves Emitted From a Cell Phone Does Not Affect the Testes," Bioelectromagnetics 24 182 (2003).

[10] J.-G. Yan et al., "Effects of Cellular Phone Emissions on Sperm Motility in Rats," Fertility and Sterility 88, 957 (2007).