Men who carry mobile phones in their trouser pockets may be at risk of damaging their sperm count, according to research by Hungarian scientists.

Full details of the study will be formally presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Berlin tomorrow. Early reports of the Hungarian work attracted scepticism from other scientists who pointed to the contradictory results of other work on the subject.

Imre Fejes and colleagues from the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Szeged in Hungary studied the mobile phone use and sperm counts of 221 men over a 13-month period. They asked the men how long they had owned a mobile phone and for how many hours they carried it about their person in standby mode, as well as how long they spent in calls every day. They drew comparisons between those who used their phones a lot and non-users.

Heavy users of mobile phones had sperm counts that were up to 30% lower than those who did not have or use a mobile at all, the scientists say. They found that not only did using the phone affect a man’s sperm count and the motility (speed of movement) of the sperm, but simply having it switched on in a pocket was enough to do damage. Mobile phones periodically but briefly transmit information to radio masts to establish contact.

More here.