Cell Phones Can Harm Sperm, Cue Mass Freakout

Score another point for those of us whose reproductive organs are on the inside rather than hanging out just waiting for disaster to strike. And it turns out that now guys have to worry about yet another threat to their junk: cell phones can harm sperm, a new study at the University of Exeter in England suggests. Sorry, guys.

Because cell phones emit low-level electromagnetic radiation, scientists have long been concerned about what effect they might have on the human body. So far they haven't found a definitive link to cancer, which is good news for those of us who can't imagine life without a phone, but based on researchers' analysis, it seems that cell phones can decrease sperm motility by 8 percent and sperm viability by 9 percent. Yikes!

The researchers say there might be a few possible explanations for this. It's possible that the electromagnetic radiation could be causing DNA damage to the sperm, though it also could be as simple as the fact that keeping an electronic device in your pocket can raise the temperature of your junk. And heat in general is bad for sperm — it's why testicles are on the outside to begin with. Poor testicles, they really just can't win, can they?

Of course, researchers also caution that this isn't anything to freak out about too much — for men who are already on the borderline, fertility-wise, the cell phone might tip them over, but for most guys, a 9 percent decrease in viability isn't going to be a huge deal for potential fertility. "[W]e need to remember that sperm quality is very variable naturally," said one of the study's author Fiona Matthews, "and men with a wide range of ‘motility’ and ‘vitality’ measures can still be considered normal and achieve a pregnancy."

However, given the rise in cell phone usage around the world, as well as seemingly increasing rates of male fertility problems, the study's authors think that this is something that scientists should investigate. Right now, though, there is only evidence of a correlation between cell phone use and less viable sperm — the study itself points out that this isn't enough to say for sure if cell phones are causing the decrease. But it does suggest we ought to be looking at this more carefully.

Meanwhile, for once, ladies are coming out ahead on a reproductive issue. Whaaat? That like never happens.