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There has been a manifold increase in the number of mobile phone users throughout the world in the past decade, with the current number of users exceeding 2 billion. However, this advancement in technology like many others is accompanied by a progressive boost in the intensity and frequency of emitted electromagnetic waves without consideration of their health consequences. The detrimental impact of these waves is generally classified into thermal and non-thermal effects. While the thermal effects at the present cell phone radiation level are considered negligible, most of the negative biological effects are attributed to the non-thermal effects. The male reproductive system is a highly compartmentalized and sensitive biological system that requires the interaction of extrinsic and intrinsic factors to function properly. In daily living since most men carry their mobile phones in their trouser pockets or in holders close to their reproductive organs, it is worthwhile to evaluate the effect of mobile phones on male fertility. A number of animal and human studies have been done in recent years suggesting a possible role of cell phone exposure on male infertility, but their mechanism of action remains unclear. The effects on sperm motility, concentration and viability have been evaluated in a number of studies but the results are inconclusive. Sperm motility is the only parameter which has seen to be decreased in most of the studies done on this subject so far. Electromagnetic waves may affect the sperms via an EMW-specific effect, thermal molecular effect or a combination of the two. Studies done on humans are scarce; hence further carefully designed studies are needed to determine the effect of electromagnetic waves emitted by cellular phones on male fertility.
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Author(s): Shilpa Khullar
Cellular phones, Male fertility, Radiofrequency electromagnetic waves, Sperm motility, Sperm parameters