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US researchers warn of possible fertility risk to men using laptop computers on their laps

US fertility experts (Thursday 9 December) 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.

The increasing popularity of laptop computers (LC), 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 LC on scrotal temperature.

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

Lead researcher Dr Yefim Sheynkin, Associate Professor of Urology and Director, Male Infertility and Microsurgery at the University, said: "By 2005, there will be 60 million laptop computers in use in the USA and a predicted 150 million worldwide. Continued improvements in power, size and price of LC have favoured their increased use in younger people and laptop sales now exceed those of desktop computers."

With the exception of an anecdotal report of genital burns, the effect of portable computers on scrotal temperature when they are used on the lap was not known, he said.

"Laptops can reach internal operating temperatures of over 70C. 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 researchers worked with 29 healthy volunteers aged 21 to 35, measuring scr
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Contact: Margaret Willson
m.willson@mwcommunications.org.uk
44-1-536-772-181
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology
8-Dec-2004


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