Can Your Laptop Cause Male Infertility?

If you sit with your computer on your lap, you might want to alter your laptop habits. That's because research has found that laptop use may increase male infertility risks. These risks may be caused by:

This article explains the possible connection between laptops and infertility and what you can do to lower your risk.

Man on couch using laptop
Katrina Wittkamp / Getty Images

Elevated Temperatures

Back in 2005, a small research project led by Yefim Sheynkin, MD, FACS, at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook, suggests that the heat from your laptop can elevate the temperature of your scrotum by up to 2.8 degrees Celsius.

This temperature change might seem small and unimportant. However, there is a link between high testicular temperature and infertility. So, this change could be problematic.

Impact on Fertility

The research team at SUNY was aware of this possible connection between scrotal temperature elevation and male infertility. So they looked at a couple of things:

  • Whether or not laptops have a significant effect on the performance and quality of sperm
  • What solutions might be available for those who like to work with their computers on their laps

In the end, they found that laptops do, indeed, raise the temperature down below. And, as a result, the study team suggested that heavy laptop use over a number of years "may cause irreversible or partially reversible changes in male reproductive function."

What This Means for You

Researchers concluded that lap pads do not protect against this temperature elevation. However, some things that may work include:

  • Switching your sitting positions (such as sitting with the legs slightly apart)
  • Limiting the length of your laptop usage

People whose sperm quality is shown to be low are often told to try cooling the temperature of their scrotum.

In addition to laptop-related changes, common cooling suggestions include:

  • Wearing looser pants and underwear
  • Avoiding hot baths and saunas
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Then again, this isn't the last word on the possible connection between laptop usage and male infertility. Fertility expert Steven J. Sondheimer, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, reacted to Sheynkin's results with a rebuttal.

He insisted that the research does not clearly link lowered sperm count from warming to infertility. Further research is necessary before knowing for certain that such a connection exists.

EMF Hazards

The heat from your laptop might not be the only issue. Researchers from Argentina have demonstrated that semen samples exposed to Wi-Fi show increased DNA damage and decreased sperm movement. This could be important since sperm DNA quality and movement are important factors for a successful pregnancy.

Further studies support these findings. They found that EMF from Wi-Fi, including exposure to laptops, may harm the testes. Specifically, it may:

  • Affect sperm count, morphology, and motility
  • Increase DNA damage
  • Cause micronuclei formation and genomic instability
  • Disrupt protein kinases, hormones, and antioxidative enzymes

What This Means for You

Studies indicate that the potential effect on fertility depends on certain things. These include:

  • Duration of exposure
  • Distance from the source of radiation
  • Power density
  • Depth of penetration

Therefore, limiting the time you spend with your laptop on your lap may help lower your risk. Instead of holding it on your lap, place the laptop on a desk or table.

Although studies have identified a connection between EMF and damage to the testes, it is more difficult to suggest how EMF affects the reproductive system. More studies are needed to determine whether EMF impacts male fertility.

Summary

Research indicates that heat and EMF from laptops may be a contributing source of male infertility. However, while studies have shown a connection between laptop use and damage to the testes, it is inconclusive that the damage causes infertility. So, more research is needed to determine whether there is a definitive link.

A Word From Verywell

If you aren't having success with conception, it can be helpful to consider anything that might harm sperm performance. For example, limiting the time your laptop is in your lap is easy to do.

In addition, if you and your partner have true concerns about infertility, be sure that both of you undergo testing to pinpoint the problem. Both of you may need an evaluation.

A urologist usually performs male infertility testing. Tests may include:

Be sure to find a urologist who is responsive and proactive about developing an action plan to combat any problems they find.

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5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Sheynkin Y, Welliver R, Winer A, Hajimirzaee F, Ahn H, Lee K. Protection from scrotal hyperthermia in laptop computer users. Fertility and Sterility. 2011;95(2):647-651. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2010.10.013

  3. Laptops May Threaten Male Fertility. HealthDay, Dec 9, 2004.

  4. Avendaño, C, Mata, A, Sanchez Sarmiento, C, Doncel, G. Use of laptop computers connected to internet through Wi-Fi decreases human sperm motility and increases sperm DNA fragmentation. Fertility and Sterility. Vol. 97, Issue 1, P39-45.E2, Jan 1, 2012 doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2011.10.012

  5. Urology Care Foundation. Male Infertility.