Cell phones and fertility


  • Ask Dr G
  • Sunday, 08 Nov 2015

File pix - AFP

American fantasy author, Jeannine Frost, best known for her work on the New York Times best selling Night Huntress, has an insight into why men adore James Bond. “The appeal of paranormal bad boy or James Bond superspy, as one example of male escapism. This can sometimes make everyday problems seem less dire. Thus, a few hours spent immersed in the world of the wicked yet alluring hero is the equivalent of a mini vacation.” 

I was planning to indulge in my “mini-vacation” during the weekend. With the release of Daniel Craig’s latest Bond Movie, Spectre, I could not wait for my "escapism", as I grew up watching my spy hero. Of course, fans of Bond would have realised Spectre is actually an acronym (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) of an international criminal organisation, first featured in Ian Fleming’s 1961’s Thunderball. I don't really care much about Spectre, the criminal organisation nor its intention to conquer the world.

Instead, I was eagerly anticipating the glam, girls and the gadgets that fulfil the very essence of male escapism and fantasy. Although early adaptations of the films have minimal high-tech equipment, the introduction of gadgets in Goldfinger had brought tremendous success in the movie. Now, it becomes an expected ritual in each film for Bond to approach “Q” to be assigned tools and toys for the missions. 

One of the attractions of the previews of Q’s gadgets was the anticipation of such toys to be a reality in the near future. In fact, that is not too far from the truth. In 2006, a phone with “sophisticated” GPS and 3.2 Megapixel digital Camera was the showcase by Q in Casino Royale

The subsequent installment, Quantum of Solace, featured a phone with a built-in identification imager capable of facial recognition, and immediate data transferred to the MI6 data mainframe. I guess less than a decade down the line, what was considered cutting edge technology for James Bond, is near obsolete today. 

In 2015, many would even question the harm of cell phones and devices are doing to their healths and minds. Robin Sharma, the famous Canadian speaker and author who wrote about a monk who sold his Ferrari once said: “Cell phone, mobile email, and all the other cool and slick gadgets can cause massive losses in our creative outputs and overall productivity”. In conjunction with the release of the new Bond movie, we ask, “Can cell phones and gadgets cause a loss of our fertility and overall reproduction?” 

Dear Dr G,

I am 28 years old and just got married 2 years ago.

My wife and I have been planning for a baby, but I am somewhat worried my sperms do not make the mark.

We have been having sexual intimacy in the last six months with no success.

Should we go for a check up? What exactly do you guys do to guys to verify fertility?

OK, I admit. I am a smoker, but I heard somewhere that sperm quality can decrease quite dramatically with the mobile phones in the pocket. Is that true?

Please help,

Richard 

The quality of sperms in men is assessed primarily in three ways - the number of sperms ejaculated per ml has to be more than 15 millions; the viable sperms have to have more than 4% morphology, and lastly, 40% of the gametes should have active progressive motility. 

A group of researchers from Exeter, United Kingdom, had recently gathered 10 past studies (meta-analysis) that demonstrated a small but consistent declined in sperm quality when exposed to mobile phone radiation in their pockets. Matthews analysed 1,492 samples in both experimental lab and observational human studies. 

The conclusion revealed the exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones was associated with an average of 8.1% decrease in sperm motility and 9.1% deformity of the ejaculates. 

The declines in the concentrations were less conclusive, as some researchers did not identify a decline in the number of sperms. Although the study did highlight an association between the emission of radio frequency and changes in sperm quality, in reality, such fluctuation is quite common even without the exposure to the electronic devices. 

Besides, the link is purely an association and the analysis did not necessarily show any cause or effect. The more important studies on the long-term impact of mobile phones over many years should really be observed. 

Richard may have possessed suboptimal levels of sperm quality to begin with. With such scenario, every little sperm would make an impact on his overall fertility. 

Altering where to place the mobile device is a very simple maneouver that perhaps can protect his crown jewels from the “frying’ radiation of mobile phones. In Dr G’s opinion, the cigarette sticks he is holding probably have more impact in the “license to kill” sperms than the phone.   

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

 


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Cell phones , fertility , health

   

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