Can laptops kill sperm? A study suggests that wi-fi connected laptops damage sperm motility and DNA

Laptops Kill Sperm: Fact or Fiction?

In Fertility by The Modern Belly9 Comments

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Here’s a scene that happens in our home multiple times a month. I notice my husband sitting on the couch with his laptop on his lap, and (politely) yell at him to get that radiation monster away from his balls. He usually obeys (he knows better than to mess with a woman on fertility drugs), but he also gives me this semi-judgmental, semi-pitying look that basically says: “you should really stop believing these old wives’ tales that the fear mongering media is spreading”. Yes, I read a lot into my husband’s looks.

I was sure that this one isn’t just a superstition, though. We all keep hearing how sperm is sensitive to heat, and those electromagnetic waves probably don’t help either. So what does a data-loving lady do to prove her point? Look up some hard-core scientific support, of course.

As it turns out, a study published in 2011 in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility suggests that I’m right and use of laptops connected to Wi-Fi may damage the sperm. In the study, researchers took semen samples from 29 healthy men, and divided each sample into two dishes. One dish from each patient was placed in a room with no electronic devices, while the other was placed under a laptop connected to Wi-Fi and actively surfing the internet. They left the samples there for four hours, and then returned to analyze them.

Saying that laptops kill sperm is probably taking things too far – the researchers found that the percentage of dead sperm was similar between the laptop-exposed samples and the non-exposed sample. When looking at motility – or the ability of the sperm to swim properly to the egg – things started getting dicey. Of the sperm exposed to the laptop, a quarter was immotile, almost twice as much as the non-exposed sperm. In addition, 9% of the exposed sperm had DNA damage known as sperm DNA fragmentation, compared to only 3% of the non-exposed sperm.

Of course, like most things in life, this study is far from perfect. Its biggest flaw is that the men ejaculated before the sperm was actually exposed to the laptop. It’s quite reasonable to assume that when the sperm resides comfortably in the testicles, it is more protected than when it’s sitting in a Petri dish in the lab. However, this is one of those cases when I’d rather not take the risk. If laptops are even suspected to have a negative effect, isn’t that reason enough to keep them away from the testicles? Putting the laptop on the table is probably the best solution, but if you’re especially fond of placing it on your lap, at least use some extra protection (this goes for men and women alike). Just placing a pillow between the laptop and your legs should probably be enough, but if you’re looking to splurge, here are a couple of more fitting options (and you help support The Modern Belly if you purchase through these affiliate links!). There’s a variety of lap protectors like this one with extra support for your laptop and comfort for you, and some of them even come with a built-in cup holder. Save the sperm and have coffee at the same time – what more could a man ask for?

Can laptops kill sperm? A study suggests that wi-fi connected laptops damage sperm motility and DNA

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  1. Thanks for this post, i use laptop on lag since last 3 year and my wife not get pregnant now i understand what happened now i not use laptop on my lag and tell you net month what happened, my wife got pregnant or not…

    with best regard

  2. This is interesting. I’m pregnant with (hopefully) or last child but, I’m going to tell my husband about this just in case!

    1. Author

      Hey, if that’s what happens to the sperm, who knows what laptops might do to our internal organs… Better safe than sorry!

  3. I find this really interesting! I mean for one thing, exposing ejaculated sperm to a laptop versus a man sitting with one in his lap might be a bit of a stretch but it doesn’t surprise me that there may be a correlation either.

    Our entire world is electronic these days and there are higher infertility levels that ever before either. Part of me always thought it was because we know so much more now that people who can’t have kids are coming forward and trying, but it’s also possible that we’re creators of our own shortcomings at the same time!

    1. Author

      Good point, Christy. I think it’s probably a combination of the two.

  4. “…to get that radiation monster away from his balls” Lol this bit made me laugh!

    This is an interesting study and could be related to why the average sperm count has been decreasing over the years as we are exposed to changes in technology, our lifestyle and environment.

    I agree though, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

    1. Author

      I know! It’s scary how fast the quality of male sperm is deteriorating. I sometimes find myself thinking about couples one to two generations from us, and I shudder when I realize how infertility might become even more prevalent than it is now. I hope that treatments will continue to improve to make up for that, but we need to do our part too and protect ourselves as much as we can.

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