Is The Internet Killing Sperm?

A new study suggests that using a WiFi-enabled laptop could lead to sperm damage. Some scientists, however, say a sperm freakout is premature.

Reuters reports that Argentinian researchers took semen samples from 29 dudes, then put them underneath a laptop with WiFi turned on. They also put semen samples under a non-WiFi-enabled laptop, and stored some at the same temperature with no computer nearby. Result: after four hours, 25% of the WiFi sperm had quit swimming, compared to 14% in the computer-free group. And 9% of the WiFi guys showed DNA damage, three times as many as were damaged in the other groups. Study authors say the cause is the electromagnetic radiation involved in a wireless connection (not, sadly, the unwholesome content of the internet itself). They write, "Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality."

But Dr. Robert Oates, president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, isn't convinced. He points out that most men do not ejaculate, put their sperm under a computer, and then expect to get someone pregnant with it. Oates explains to Reuters, "This is not real-life biology, this is a completely artificial setting. [...] Suddenly all of this angst is created for real-life actual persons that doesn't have to be." So in order to determine whether WiFi really harms men's fertility, we'd have to replicate the way guys actually use computers. For now, the threat of sperm mutation is mostly hypothetical — but it could be a good way to scare a teenage boy away from the internet long enough for him to set the table.

Wifi-Enabled Laptops May Be Nuking Sperm [Reuters, via NY Daily News]

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