Can My Laptop Cause Male Infertility?

New Research Shows Possible Link Between Laptop Usage and Infertility

Young man using laptop
Getty Images/ML Harris

Do you sit with your computer on your lap? You might want to alter your laptop habits. A small research project led by Yefim Sheynkin, MD, FACS, at the State University of New York suggests that the heat from your laptop can elevate the temperature of your scrotum by up to 2.8 degrees. This might seem minuscule and unimportant but, if you consider the fact that there is a demonstrated link between high testicular temperature and infertility, you can see how this might be problematic.

The research team at SUNY, cognizant of this possible connection between scrotal temperature elevation and male infertility, tested whether or not laptops have a significant effect on the performance and quality of sperm. In addition, they sought out solutions for those who like to work with their computers on their laps. In they end, they found that laptops do, indeed, raise the temperature down below. They also concluded that lap pads do not protect against this temperature elevation, but that seeking out alternative sitting positions (such as sitting with the legs slightly apart) or limiting the length of one's laptop usage could be effective.

If you have been struggling with infertility, this research may be of interest. Men whose sperm quality is shown to be low are often told to try cooling the temperature of their scrotum by wearing looser pants and by avoiding hot baths. And the study team headed by Sheynkin has, as a result, suggested that heavy laptop use over a number of years "may cause irreversible or partially reversible changes in male reproductive function." 

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, insisting that "it is not clear that it [the warming effect] is clinically important." And so it's obvious that further research is necessary before knowing for certain that such a connection exists.

Of course, when one is struggling with conception, it can be helpful to consider anything that might have an adverse effect on sperm performance. So go ahead. Limit the time you spend with your laptop in your lap. But in addition, if you and your partner have true concerns about infertility, be sure that the both of you undergo the tests considered necessary to pinpoint the problem. Both you and your partner will need bloodwork. Your partner's doctor may also recommend she get an ultrasound and a hysterosalpingogram (HSG).

As for you, in addition to bloodwork, you'll require a semen analysis. Be sure to find a urologist who is responsive, and also proactive about developing an action plan and working with you to combat any problems he finds.

In the end, infertility can be caused by any number of things, not all of them easily diagnosable. Read more about male infertility before making any assumptions about what may or may not be causing your own difficulties.

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