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Medicine Wireless Networking Science

Study Hints That Wi-Fi Near Testes Could Decrease Male Fertility 307

Pierre Bezukhov submits news of a report that "a laptop connected wirelessly to the internet on the lap near the testes may result in decreased male fertility," writing "'[The scientists who conducted the research] placed healthy sperms under a laptop running a Wi-Fi connection. After four hours, the Wi-Fi exposed sperms showed 'a significant decrease in progressive sperm motility and an increase in sperm DNA fragmentation' compared to healthy sperms stored for the same time in the same temperature away from the computer. That is, the sperms exposed to Wi-Fi were less capable of moving towards an egg to fertilize it and less capable of passing on the male's DNA if it does fertilize an egg.' The scientists blamed the damage on non-thermal electromagnetic radiation generated by the Wi-Fi." However, the experiment was based on sperm outside the body; the researchers (here's the abstract from their study) note that "Further in vitro and in vivo studies are needed to prove this contention."
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Study Hints That Wi-Fi Near Testes Could Decrease Male Fertility

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:35AM (#38201828)

    and still people will use this as FUD for the next 3 decades.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      You know, you're right. After reading TFA, you're even more right. Then again, I normally don't stick anything like wi-fi antenna's next to my sack. But considering the fetishes of some people out there, I'm sure this will be the next hot thing.

    • As if it matters. This study doesn't indicate any long term damage only making the current crop of sperm impotent. Just dump a load and start to replenish stocks and the effect is gone.

      • It takes 2 months for the current crop to form. So if this study found something real, the effect could last for a while. At least, long enough to matter if you're actively trying to conceive.
    • It is a given fact that once you get wifi you will have internet everywhere, this will translate to porn everywhere, this will translate to constant.... excercise that will lower sperm count... so yes! Wifi causes infertility!

  • by sgt scrub ( 869860 ) < minus punct> on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:36AM (#38201836)

    They don't say what the compute was displaying. Porn has been known to effect the movement of sperms.

  • by Shirogitsune ( 1810950 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:36AM (#38201846) Homepage
    ...a tinfoil codpiece!
  • Awesome I'm going to connect my jewels to the web!

    Maybe then my wife won't keep pestering me to get snipped.

    • Re:Awesome (Score:4, Funny)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @11:13AM (#38202322) Journal

      Maybe then my wife won't keep pestering me to get snipped.

      Go ahead and do it. It's been five years for me and it's great. Everything still works.

      Of course, don't even consider it unless you already have children and you are in a long-term committed and successful relationship.

      Nowadays, they do it with laser beams and you don't have have sore nuts for a week or anything. My doctor gave me a tootsie pop (seriously) after he was done and it was great! I'd go do it again, but it would be kind of redundant, I think. Man, I loved that tootsie pop. It was the grape, which is my favorite.

      • See... you almost had me convinced to get one done until you told me the tootsie pop was grape flavour.

        I can risk the low-potential for impotence and inability to reach the "o"- but I can't risk getting a grape tootsie-pop over a different flavour.

      • by Surt ( 22457 )

        And remember that half of all long-term committed and successful relationships are still going to fail, and that having had your children, you've put yourself in the category of more likely to fail due to the increased stress.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:38AM (#38201868) Journal

    Free contraception!

  • Yet every modern laptop has its wifi antennas carefully routed alongside the screen so that their polarization will match the WAP's polarization. Laptops get hot. Sperm want to live at 97F (definitely not at 98.6, which is average body temperature). What have they previously published? I smell an agenda.
    • Should be easy to rule that out by using a USB wifi dongle on an extension near one sample, and a temperature-controlled object of the same size over the control (those dongles do heat up a little bit, not much, but you gotta be sure).

    • Isn't the body of the laptop just a really big EMF shield anyway? So the one place where you wouldn't have exposure to the wifi signal is the underside?

      • Not really. In fact most newer laptop bodies are nearly 100% plastic, they only have a little metal in the hinges, no metal frames like in years gone by.

        Although most newer ones with removable underplates that give you full access to the internals also have a layer of aluminum foil sheeting on the underplate to help keep the bottom cool, that would probably shield anything under the laptop from the wifi antennas in the screen.

    • Laptops get hot. Sperm want to live at 97F (definitely not at 98.6, which is average body temperature).

      "...compared to healthy sperm stored for the same time in the same temperature away from the computer." So, if they didn't just screw up (always a possibility), the difference in motility cannot be due to the increased temperature near the laptop.

      • by bandy ( 99800 )
        2.4GHz Wi-Fi signals aren't the only EM signals generated by a laptop. Who here remembers computers playing music by executing carefully-timed loops using a properly-tuned AM radio to pick up the EMI generated by them?
    • Well they said that they have already controlled the temperature to be the same in each test.

      So either their methods are hopelessly flawed or this result doe snot have to do with heat.

    • by IICV ( 652597 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @12:05PM (#38202950)

      They actually aren't claiming anything. I tracked down the paper (which was fucking harder than it should have been, the article didn't cite anything but the journal and month - turns out it was in the supplemental issue from September, not the main journal). The real citation is:

      A. Van-Gheem, J. Martin, L. Penrose, N. Farooqi, S. Prien, Short-term exposure to cell phone levels of radio frequency radiation do not appear to to influence semen parameters in vitro, Fertility and Sterility, Volume 96, Issue 3, Supplement, September 2011, Page S155, ISSN 0015-0282, 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2011.07.610.

      I wonder why the article didn't cite it? Maybe because in the title itself, it says "do not appear to influence". Anyway, turns out it's not a real paper, it's really just a blurb about "We did this and it turns out nothing happened".

      Here's the results section:

      As expected, all measured semen parameters decreased with time (p

      So basically, I have absolutely no idea where this article came from. What it says directly contradicts the paper it claims to be reporting on. It looks like there is an agenda here, but it's not the scientists'.

      • by wes33 ( 698200 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:02PM (#38204478)

        there are two papers: the Van-Gheem paper you cite and then there is the
        one the slashdot article is about, which is:

        Use of laptop computers connected to internet through Wi-Fi decreases human sperm motility and increases sperm DNA fragmentation. by Avendaño C, Mata A, Sanchez Sarmiento CA, Doncel GF.

        The authors are the Argentineans which the linked article mentions.

        It's (to be) published in Fertility and Sterility.

        So I basically don't know what you're going on about ...

  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:42AM (#38201932) Journal

    Non-AC'd cars, cell phones, now wi-fi...but I'm not worried. You only need to conceive a child a few times in your whole life anyways, worst-case scenario, you forgo the motorcycle and the big TV and lay down the cash for an artificial insemination procedure.

    (Can feel mom's hopes for grandchildren fading...)

    • Back in the 1970s tight underpants and tight jeans used to be the big threat to male fertility. Health scares move with the times.

      • Back in the 1970s tight underpants and tight jeans used to be the big threat to male fertility.

        So I guess if a man wants to conceive, he should start wearing a kilt [], a sarong [], a thobe/dishdasha/caftan [], or something else that gives more room down there. Yet too many men are too uncertain of their masculinity to wear anything but trousers.

    • It's about $2k for an IUI and about $8k for an IVF and it typically takes a few tries.
  • Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by lightknight ( 213164 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:43AM (#38201956) Homepage

    Most things placed near testes tend to decrease male fertility.

    Briefs, jeans, angry women...

  • by Metabolife ( 961249 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:56AM (#38202128)

    May all the weak Wi-Fi afflicted sperm perish as their superior Wi-Fi resistant brethren overtake the womb!

  • by jimmyswimmy ( 749153 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:57AM (#38202140)

    How is a signal with a wavelength of 5" (wifi is around 2.4 GHz, 2.4E9/3E8*39.37in/m=4.9") supposed to interact with a human sperm, which, according to wikipedia, is comprised of a head 5 um long and a tail 41 um long, all of which total 0.002 inches. These arguments never ever make any sense to me.

    • Wavelength. By this logic, you wouldn't be able to hit a badger with a javelin?

      Of course, that's probably a terrible analogy. I never took much in the way of physics.

      • Re:Wavelength (Score:4, Interesting)

        by martas ( 1439879 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @12:30PM (#38203260)
        Funny analogy, but what OP is hinting at is the intuitive notion that all radiation interacts with objects roughly its "size", i.e. wavelength. A better analogy for this would be if a bunch of people, ranging from tiny elves to enormous giants, tried to grab a badger -- the elves would only be able to grab a single hair on it, and the giant could grab the mountain it's sitting on but the badger could escape between his fingers. Only a person of just the right size could actually grab the badger. So, for example, IR interacts with large molecules thus heating them, which is why objects that are just hot enough to glow a little red feel so hot from a distance; UV is much smaller wavelengths, so it tents to break up large molecules (e.g. DNA), thus causing cancer and killing bacteria (essentially acting as poison for them); xrays interact at an atomic level, which is why they are so useful in imaging -- individual atoms block/"refract" them in different ways, creating different patterns (e.g. in xray crystallography); finally, gamma rays are so tiny that they interact with nuclei, and are capable of being absorbed by said nuclei which then become radioactive themselves (i.e. "hold on" to the gamma ray for a while and release the energy after some random period of time), or of breaking off individual protons/neutrons from the nucleus, or even splitting it up. This intuition can get you pretty far, but it doesn't explain everything -- for example, microwaves heat things through an entirely different mechanism, as some people mentioned above.
  • More Wi-Fi will make more less fertile men. Many people believe that we currently have overpopulation issues, so this could be an excellent way to fix it. Free laptops for every male!
  • In addition to the usual arguments about wave and particle energy density of light in the radio spectrum, there's another reason this result is extremely unlikely to be true: sperm are not built out of custom parts. Other parts of the body, for example the inside of the lungs, contain beating filaments which are almost identical (except for length and pattern of motion) to the tails of sperm.

    If wifi caused serious problems with sperm motility, it would also cause very obvious respiratory problems or other

  • This is retarded. They could have aimed a corded wi-fi antenna at it, but instead they just put the whole computer next to it and "blamed" the wi-fi.
  • For lead lined pants ... Anyone in ?

  • Yeah, right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tgibbs ( 83782 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @11:45AM (#38202738)

    I take reports of damage to cells in a dish with a grain of salt. This isn't a natural environment for the cells, and it is incredibly easy to harm them accidentally in a variety of ways. When the phenomenon is unlikely to begin with (damage to cells from photons that individually don't carry enough energy to produce lasting changes in any biological molecule), place your bets on "artifact."

  • What do you call couples that practice the testicular WiFi-proximity method of birth control?


  • iPhone in your pocket. No chidrens for you.
  • I sit with my laptop on my lap WiFi'ing all the time. And I've got three children 4 and under.

    Promises, promises...

    What I'd give for a viable non-surgerical male birth control option.

  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @12:33PM (#38203326)

    All computers emit RF radiation when they're running, whether or not they even have WiFi installed. Regulations require manufacturers to limit this radiation, but it's still there; and with a computer in very close proximity to a test subject, (spermatozoon, human, or otherwise), it's probably a toss-up as to whether any effects attributable to RF radiation are a result of WiFi, or of the 1GHz+ processor, the switching power supplies, and any of several other possible sources of radio frequency energy.

The absent ones are always at fault.