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Laptops and sperm: Scientists find angle of incidence

15 November 2010

By Ben Jones

Appeared in BioNews 584

A study has suggested that to prevent potential damage to their fertility men should sit with their legs separated when using laptops placed on their legs. In an article published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, data on scrotal temperature during laptop use suggests that the use of a laptop pad, a device used to transfer heat generated by laptops away from the human body, may be insufficient to avoid temperatures at which sperm could become damaged.

Researchers at the Department of Urology and the Department of Applied Mathematics at the State University of New York identified the potential for rapid hyperthermia (over-heating) among male laptop users and explored potential means of reducing the risk posed. The conclusion drawn was that prevention of scrotal hyperthermia was not presently feasible but that it may be reduced in degree by means of adopting a 'modified sitting position'

While all of the twenty-nine young men studied experienced temperature elevation of between 1.4 and 2.3 °C (degrees celsius), those who sat with their knees at a 70 degree angle demonstrated temperatures at the lower end of the range. Though the raised temperature was not generally noticed by the participants, for those with their legs together it took only ten to 15 minutes before the temperature exceeded normal levels.

For those with their legs apart, this doubled to an average of 28 minutes. The testes are maintained at a temperature generally a couple of degrees cooler than the rest of the human body and earlier research suggests that warming the scrotum by as little as one degree may present a risk of damage to sperm

Dr Yefim Shynkin, who led the study, believes that scrotal hyperthermia induced by even modest laptop use may lead to increased risks of infertility. While he advocates not only a wide sitting stance and 'significantly shorter use' of laptop computers, he makes clear that short of using a desk - 'No matter what you do, even with the legs spread wide apart, the temperature is still going to be higher than what we call safe'.

Reuters | 07 November 2010
Wired Science | 10 November 2010
The Independent | 08 November 2010
Fertility and Sterility | 
Fertility and Sterility | 08 November 2010
PC Magazine | 08 November 2010


05 December 2011 - by Luciana Strait 
Ejaculated sperm has been shown to be significantly damaged by prolonged exposure to a WiFi connected laptop. A study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, found that after four hours of exposure there was a significant decrease in sperm motility and an increase in sperm DNA fragmentation....
13 June 2011 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
A new fertility test for men which can detect DNA damage in sperm has been developed in the UK. The test, called SpermComet, could save couples undergoing fertility treatment both time and money, since it will allow clinics to fast-track patients to the most appropriate treatment, say its developers...

08 September 2008 - by Katy Sinclair 
Scientists from the University of Giessen in Germany, reporting in the New Scientist, have warned that heated car seats could damage sperm production. The optimal temperature for healthy sperm production is between 35 and 36 degrees centigrade , which is 1 to 2 degrees centigrade lower than core...
09 December 2004 - by BioNews 
Fertility experts from the US have warned that men who tend to use their laptop computers on their laps may find their fertility decreased. The researchers, from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, looked at what effect laptop use might have, given that a warm temperature around...

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