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Want to be a dad?Get that laptop off your laps

Saturday November 10 2012

Electromagnetic radiation generated during wireless communication is believed to have damaged the sperms.

Electromagnetic radiation generated during wireless communication is believed to have damaged the sperms. Photo/File Nation Media Group

By SAM WAMBUGU

Laptop computers are being studied in health circles because of their possible impact on fertility in men.

A number of studies suggest that there is a connection between sperms, laptops and wireless connections which work against men.

While placing a laptop on the laps may appear to be the most natural thing to do, studies show that it generates temperatures high enough to damage sperms.

Millions of men around the world are hooked on to this gadget for hours, be it for professional commitments or for recreational purpose.

Most of them also find the heat from the lap top highly uncomfortable, but do little about it.

Fertility studies show that an increase of half a degree of temperature could reduce sperm count by nearly 40 per cent.

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One particular study found that running laptop on the thighs of men heated up to nearly 40 degrees centigrade after one hour, raising the temperatures in their scrotal area by 19 degrees centigrade.

Different groups of scientists have discovered from several studies that effects of high temperature and Wi-Fi signals from laptops may be harmful to spermatozoa.

Wi-Fi or “wireless fidelity” or wireless internet connection is a tech term that refers to a group of technical standards which enable the transmission of data over wireless networks.

How exactly these situations combine to affect fertility is what may catch your interest. Semen samples of 29 healthy and fertile males were experimented on in two different environments – Wi-Fi and non-Wi-Fi.

In the Wi-Fi sample, a few drops of semen were placed under a laptop with the Wi-Fi switched on. The laptop was downloading data from the internet non-stop. The non-Wi-Fi sample was identical to the Wi-Fi environment, but with no Wi-Fi switched on.

Four hours later, it was found that sperms in the Wi-Fi environment were no longer swimming around, compared to just 14 per cent from semen samples stored at the same temperature away from the computer. Electromagnetic radiation generated during wireless communication is believed to have damaged the sperms.

Previous studies had already shown that placing a laptop on a man’s lap could potentially affect his fertility, especially if this occurs frequently and for long periods.

The laptop can cause scrotal hyperthermia (elevated testicle temperature), which can considerably affect the quality of his sperm, more in terms of motility than count.

While scientists aren’t sure of the exact temperature where the impact on sperm is felt, they know that placing a laptop on your lap close to the scrotum with the legs closed changed its temperature in a way that could effectively lower sperm counts.

Anatomically, the scrotum is placed outside the body so that the temperature of the testis is kept a little below the body temperature which is necessary for sperm production.

However, as per the observations made by doctors, prolong use of the laptop; being placed on the lap can affect the sperm quality.

Doctors advise that for maximum sperm production, testicles need to remain cool, even one to two degrees below body temperature.

They say that any type of applied heat to the scrotum is bad and a man has really got to be quite conscious when it comes to items such as hot tubs, heating pads, and heated car seats.

The point here is that males who place a laptop on their laps with the Wi-Fi on might have a greater risk of reduced sperm motility and more sperm DNA fragmentation, which could, in theory, undermine their chances of becoming fathers.

Although these studies have some limitations, testicles would seem to be hard-pressed and need some protection especially because most men who use laptop are boys and men of reproductive age.

These are men who are establishing families and would not want the innocuous laptops to ruin their chances of becoming fathers.

Sam Wambugu is a monitoring and evaluation specialist. Email: samwambugugmail.com