Using laptops on laps is the highway to infertility

The public ‘court of perception’ has always been that of ‘yewk’ and ‘arrgh!’ when it comes to the idea that goat and sheep milk can notde better nutritional value than the timeless dairy.
Sitting posture as well as heat from laptops can cause infertility in men. Net photo.
Sitting posture as well as heat from laptops can cause infertility in men. Net photo.

The public ‘court of perception’ has always been that of ‘yewk’ and ‘arrgh!’ when it comes to the idea that goat and sheep milk can notde better nutritional value than the timeless dairy.

ButThat a ‘mere’ laptop computer could cause you to suffer from erectile dysfunction and infertility sounds far-fetched in all sense of the word, except to scientists. Well, laptops could be giving way to tablets and iPad minis today, but that does not mean their use is extinct.

Researches argue that behaviour patterns that the youth establish early on may impact their ability to become a dad later in life. Excessive laptop use tops this list of liabilities.

Male fertility can also be affected by genetic, biological, or sexual problems. However, some of the every day causes of low sperm count include overheating testicles by spending too much time in the hot tub or sauna, using certain medications, such as those for depression or high blood pressure, smoking and alcohol use, and stress, which affects hormones.

In 2004, US fertility experts warned teenage boys and young men to consider limiting the time that they use laptop computers positioned on their laps, as long-term use may affect their fertility.

Excessive heat

Excessive use of laptop computers, coupled with existing evidence that elevated scrotal temperature can result in sperm damage, prompted researchers from the State University of New York at Stony Brook to undertake the first study into the effect of heat from laptop computers on scrotal temperature.

The findings were reported in Europe’s leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction. They show that using a laptop on the lap increased the left scrotal temperature by a median 2.6 degrees Celsius and the right by a median 2.8 degrees Celsius. Several previous studies have shown that increases in testicular or scrotal temperatures of between 1 degrees Celsius and 2.9 degrees Celsius are associated with a sustained and considerable negative effect on spermatogenesis and fertility.

Dr Mwumvaneza Mutagoma, the director of sexual transmitted infections unit at Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC), said sperms are known to develop best in cool temperature because the testicles are suited outside the man’s body with in the scrotum.

The elevation of temperature of testicles is associated with decreasing of sperm production. Everything that can increase scrotum temperature can cause men infertility, said the doctor, who is also experienced in reproductive health issues.

“It is better to use computers on table, if on lap not using it often or long period of time, avoid putting legs very close to another when using lap top,” Dr Mutagoma said.

Findings show that scrotal hyperthermia, for instance, is produced by both special body posture and local heating effect of laptops.

“Laptops can reach internal operating temperatures of over 70 degrees Celcius. They are frequently positioned close to the scrotum, and as well as being capable of producing direct local heat, they require the user to sit with his thighs close together to balance the machine, which traps the scrotum between the thighs,” the British urology researchers said in their 2004 finding.

When subjected to warm conditions, temperature of the testicles tend to drop down and when subjected to cold conditions testosterone and sperm count decreases when temperature of a testes increase, Dr Mwumvaneza said.

Although scientists are not yet sure of the exact frequency and time of heat exposure capable of producing reversible or irreversible changes in spermatogenesis, laptops produce significant repetitive transient scrotal hyperthermia for years, and insufficient recovery time between heat exposures may cause irreversible or partially reversible changes in male reproductive function.

According to Jane Okoth, a pharmacist in Kigali, using a laptop for five to 15 minutes is enough to heat the scrotal  temperature above normal.

In 2011, researchers in Argentina published findings that said the powerful electromagnetic radiation emitted from laptops could be responsible for diminished sperm counts and possibly erectile dysfunction. The research, published by the clinical journal Fertility and Sterility, claims to show a link between WiFi enabled laptops and infertility.

The Argentinean scientists said laptops that were wirelessly connected to the Internet and which were positioned close to the male reproductive organs expose users to reproductive health problems.

Like heat from laptops, Okoth said using hot shower also endangers the scrotum because of the heat. She said cold water makes skin capillaries near the surface dilate, which forces blood from deeper parts of the body into extremities to warm them up.

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