It’s not hard to see why Andrew Huberman’s podcast Huberman Lab has racked up over two million YouTube subscribers. The neuroscientist and Stanford University professor has a knack for distilling complex health issues into easy-to-understand, no-nonsense advice that can help you live a longer, higher-quality life.
We happen to be all about that pursuit over here at The Edge, which is why he try to stay plugged into Huberman’s guidance.
On Tuesday, Huberman posted a teaser video for his latest Huberman Lab episode, which is all about both male and female fertility. But in particular, when it comes to dudes, he backs up a widespread belief that the cell phone warming up your pants may do harm to your overall fertility level.
“You might have heard that carrying your phone in your pocket can reduce your testosterone levels and your sperm count. And guess what? That is true,” Huberman says in the video.
Huberman points to meta-analyses suggesting that this isn’t simply an old wives’ tale. The scientific literature clearly indicates that a smartphone left in a pants pocket may disrupt male hormones, along with fertility, he says.
Why does this matter? As Huberman notes, even if you’re not actively trying to have kids, “optimizing for fertility is the best way to optimize for vitality and longevity.” In other words, the more fertile you are, the greater the likelihood that you’re better off generally, too.
So what’s the takeaway? Huberman isn’t unrealistic enough to think you’ll be ditching your smartphone, or any cell phone, for good.
But he has some sensible pointers: If you’re a man, and especially if you’re trying to conceive, avoid putting your cell phone in your front pocket. And hey, it is winter, so you might be better off sliding that internet-connected device into a jacket pocket for quick referencing, anyway.
Ideally, Huberman says, you should keep your smartphone “as far away from your body as possible,” including even when the Wi-Fi or cell signal are turned off. That’s because the heat coming off the phone, while it might be so minor that you don’t even notice it, can reduce sperm count, sperm motility, and sperm quality—and it may even be the culprit behind dropping testosterone levels. Reports from the National Library of Medicine and the Environmental Working Group have emphasized that there is a link in research between electromagnetic radiation (EMR), such as from a phone, and lower male fertility.
“If you’ve been carrying your phone in your front pocket for some years now, don’t despair,” Huberman adds on a positive note. “The negative effects are likely reversible over time.”