The way a user connects to the Internet, as well as where a laptop is placed, could all have significant consequences according to a new study.
Conrado Avendano, research director at the Nascentis Reproductive Medical Center in Argentina, said radiation from Wi-Fi connections could harm the virility of males.
In the study, found in the Medical Journal of fertility and Sterility, Argentinean scientists describe how they received semen samples from 29 men in good health. They then placed a few drops next to a laptop that was connected to the Internet through Wi-Fi and then surfed the web.
Scientists claim that in as little as four hours they were able to see dramatic changes in the concentration and consistency of the semen. They found that about 25 percent of the sperm samples were no longer responsive or even moving.
This is compared to just 14 percent from the semen samples stored at the same temperature away from the computer that showed the same characteristics. Nine percent of the sperm exposed to the Wi-Fi connection showed DNA damage, three times more than the comparison samples.
The reason for this, according to Avendano and his colleagues, is electromagnetic radiation generated during wireless communication.
"Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the Internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality," said the report. "At present we do not know whether this effect is induced by all laptop computers connected by Wi-Fi to the Internet or what use conditions heighten this effect."
According to the American Urological Association, nearly one in six couples in the United States have trouble conceiving a baby.