Have you and your partner had trouble getting pregnant? If you are one of the many couples struggling to conceive, it may come as no surprise to hear that male fertility issues have been on the rise in recent years. As more and more men face problems with sperm motility, quality, and quantity, it’s natural to wonder why this is happening. And, perhaps more importantly, what can you do about it?
We know that everything from pesticides to plastics can contribute to reproductive issues in men. But these environmental factors alone do not account for the increase in fertility issues that many are dealing with. It turns out, however, the cell phone you keep in your pocket could be part of the problem. So could the laptop you set on your lap. But what do these devices have in common?
Cell phones, laptops, and other connected electronics emit electromagnetic fields (EMFs). EMF radiation has been linked to a number of health issues, including certain cancers and abnormal sperm count and behavior. Reducing your exposure to EMFs can be difficult, as this form of radiation is found almost everywhere. If you’re interested in learning more, keep reading.
What is EMF radiation?
To protect yourself against its harmful effects, it’s first helpful to understand what EMF radiation is. EMF is a type of radiation that is put off by electronic devices that transmit a signal. Some of this is ionizing, such as X-rays. Some of the EMF radiation is non-ionizing, such as the type that is transmitted by your phone or fitness tracker. Even power lines and household appliances emit some level of non-ionizing EMF radiation.
There is little doubt that ionizing radiation can cause cancer and other health effects in large enough doses. That’s why the X-ray technician has you wear an iron vest before they snap their images. The debate is over non-ionizing radiation. Government agencies and federal guidelines indicate that small levels of exposure to non-ionizing radiation are not known to cause cancer or serious health risks.
While the government says one thing, international bodies and independent researchers say another. The World Health Organization has acknowledged that EMFs are potentially carcinogenic. One study found that children living near powerlines emitting high quantities of EMF radiation had an increase in leukemia.
More research is warranted to determine for certain if the radiation emitted from cell phones, WiFi-enabled devices, and other electronics is harmful. It’s worthwhile to note, however, that while the small amounts of EMFs put off by a single device may not be enough to cause negative health effects, we are generally not just exposed in small doses. We tend to be glued to our phones and other electronics. And we don’t use them in small quantities, either— your phone is likely either in your hand or in your pocket, all day long. Then at night, it rests near your bed. It’s the cumulative effects of exposure, rather than any one device, that may be problematic.
Furthermore, signal strengths have grown stronger in recent years as we become more electronically connected in our daily lives. While a cell phone ten years ago may not have emitted enough radiation to be dangerous, a modern phone may. There is simply not enough evidence to indicate that EMF radiation is safe in the doses we are exposed to.
How does EMF radiation affect male fertility?
EMF radiation has been shown in several studies to negatively impact male fertility. In 2018, an international literature review found that radiofrequency magnetic fields (RF-EMFs) were linked to problems with sperm motility and quantity. The reviewers combed over past studies and eventually concluded that while completely reducing EMF exposure was impractical, awareness of the issue was an important step towards preserving male reproductive health.
One 2012 Korean study found that sperm morphology was particularly impacted by cell phones. The same study indicated that the problem could grow more severe over time, as babies who were exposed to EMFs in the womb reach reproductive age.
Tips for avoiding EMF radiation-related fertility problems
Unless you plan on moving to an off-grid cabin in the woods and swearing off all electronics, some degree of EMF exposure is unavoidable in daily life. However, there are several steps you can take to reduce EMF radiation-related fertility problems. While male fertility issues aren’t the only negative side effect of EMF exposure, these tips are geared towards protecting your reproductive organs and sperm.
Be mindful of placement
Where you put your phone does make a difference. If you always stick your phone in your pants pocket, consider moving it elsewhere. You may also want to purchase an EMF radiation protection sleeve, which will help reduce some of the EMF emitted by your phone. SafeSleeve makes a great wallet-case hybrid that helps protect against radiation. If you must store your phone in your pocket, a radiation-proof case will at least help reduce your exposure.
You should also be mindful of where you hold your phone when you text or game. Do you always find yourself holding the device near your groin, or setting it on your lap? If so, consider switching up how you hold your phone, keeping it as far away from the body as possible while in use.
Make it a habit to use ‘airplane mode’
The airplane mode setting on your phone was originally intended to be used for flying.
The RF signals emitted by your phone could potentially interfere with the equipment on commercial airplanes. However, this setting is also highly beneficial for reducing your EMF exposure.
The main sources of EMF exposure from your cell phone include connections to WiFi, Bluetooth devices and a cellular network. When you put your phone in airplane mode, you are cutting off the connection to all three of these sources, significantly reducing your EMF exposure.
Try to put your phone in airplane mode whenever you’re not using it and especially if you plan to place it somewhere close to your body, such as your desk or pocket.
And remember, you can always enable WiFi even when airplane mode is turned on. So, you don’t have to lose your Internet connection to enjoy the added EMF protection provided by airplane mode.
Set the laptop on a table
Along those same lines, either get a radiation protection pad for your laptop or set it on the table. Placing the laptop directly on your lap increases EMF exposure to the groin area. If you must place your laptop on your lap, try putting it in airplane mode first so that WiFi and Bluetooth are at least disabled.
If you’re in the market for a radiation protection pad, DefenderShield sells a high-quality radiation pad that doubles as a heat shield. Not only will you be protecting yourself from radiation, but you’ll be helping ensure your laptop doesn’t overheat.
Buy an EMF meter
An EMF meter is useful for detecting the levels of EMF radiation in your home, as well as figuring out which devices are the biggest generator.
If you don’t already have an EMF meter, they are reasonably inexpensive. MeterK makes a highly rated, budget-friendly EMF meter — it’s simple to operate and effective to use. If you’re looking for a higher-end model, consider TriField’s TF2, which has all bells and whistles you could need. Highly sensitive and able to detect RF frequencies as well as magnetic and electric frequencies, this device is great for anyone concerned about EMF levels.
Once you have a meter, it’s useful to create a chart and monitor your home’s levels on a regular basis, especially as you make adjustments and lifestyle changes. It’s also useful to monitor your home’s levels with all electronic devices on, and off. By checking your levels with electronics powered down, you can find out how much EMF radiation is present from powerlines and other outside sources.
Reduce your use of WiFi-enabled devices in the home, and consider switching away from WiFi entirely. Wired internet is not only faster, but it emits less EMF radiation than WiFi. Reducing your overall exposure to EMF radiation is an important part of protecting yourself against EMF-related fertility issues, and WiFi is one huge source of radiation.
If you must use WiFi-enabled devices, power on the WiFi only as needed. For example, if you’re playing a game on your phone that doesn’t require the internet, switch your WiFi off. Schedule “dark” times when you turn your home’s WiFi off all together. This can further reduce your overall EMF exposure, as well as force you to disconnect and relax— another thing that can help with fertility problems.
What to do if you’re still having problems
Say you’ve taken all the possible precautions to protect yourself. You’ve purchased an EMF-proof case and laptop pad, switched over to wired internet, limited your use of electronics, and invested in an EMF meter. But even though you’ve done all of that, you are still having trouble conceiving. Many individuals are sensitive to EMF frequencies, meaning sometimes just the radiation in your surrounding area is enough to impact sperm count and motility.
If that’s the case, you may need to take steps to increase your sperm’s overall quantity and health. There are several things you can do.
Eat a balanced diet
Eating nutritious foods helps put your body in peak condition. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, complex carbs, and lean proteins ensures that your body has what it needs to function. The better your body is functioning, the healthier your sperm will be. Eating too many processed foods, sugar, fat, and simple carbs can cause damage to sperm over time. Opt for fresh food over pre-packaged options, and try to limit the amount of fast food you eat, particularly if it’s fried.
Exercise is another important component of boosting sperm health. Don’t overdo it, especially if you’re new to working out, but try to do something active each day. You don’t need to run ten miles every morning, but getting out for a brisk walk before work and after dinner can help get the blood flowing. Increase your activity level slowly over time until you are able to participate in moderately intense cardio exercise three to four times per week.
Stress can cause a number of negative effects on the body, and this includes the sperm. During times of stress, the body kicks up its production of certain sperm-damaging hormones. This can decrease overall sperm quality and quantity, especially if the stress is experienced for a prolonged length of time.
Cut out caffeine and other drugs
If you’ve been overindulging in coffee, smoking cigarettes, or taking other drugs, now is probably the time to cut them out. Caffeine, marijuana, and other drugs can all cause problems with sperm motility, shape, and quantity. If you can’t bring yourself to cut out the morning coffee altogether, at least cut back— drink one cup instead of two, for example.
Seek medical treatment
Finally, if all else has failed, consider seeking medical treatment. There is only so much you can do to combat the effects of EMF radiation and other environmental causes of male fertility issues. Sometimes medical intervention is necessary and finding a professional that you and your partner trust can help.
If you’re an otherwise healthy individual who has been struggling to conceive, you may be frustrated and disheartened. It’s important to know, however, that the problems you’re experiencing may not be your fault.
EMF radiation has been linked to issues with male fertility by several studies. Radiation that is found in cell phones, laptops, tablets, other electronic devices, and even power lines, has been shown to negatively impact sperm motility, behavior, and quantity. These changes to the sperm make it difficult for many couples to successfully conceive.
Government regulations do not go far enough to protect us from the harmful effects of EMF radiation. Instead, regulations fail to take into consideration the cumulative effect of EMF radiation, which requires the average American to take steps to protect themselves.
A few steps you can take to guard against EMF-related fertility issues include purchasing a phone case, using airplane mode as much as possible, setting your cell phone away from your body when not in use, purchasing a laptop pad, switching to wired internet, and monitoring EMF levels in your home. To reduce overall exposure to EMF radiation, families should also consider going dark for a given amount of time each day, shutting off all WiFi-enabled devices and powering down electronics.
For those who have cut back on their EMF exposure and who still have problems conceiving, taking steps to improve overall sperm health may be wise. Eating a healthier diet, exercising, cutting back on caffeine and drugs, and reducing stress all have the potential to help. Seeking the guidance of a medical professional may also be an effective step.
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