Understanding the Risks of Radiation and Infertility When It Comes to Laptop Use

Many of you will use a laptop in some shape or form every single day. Could clocking up all those hours and the way you use your laptop be having a negative effect on your health?

I have to admit that I haven't really thought about any possible health implications surrounding the use of a laptop and I probably use mine more than most. That changed recently when saw an interesting video on such a topic by the team over at The Verge. The two main issues they looked at were how a laptop could negatively affect fertility and the possible issues of exposure to radiation by having your computer directly sat on your lap.

The good news is that the experts interviewed mostly agreed that using a laptop did not cause infertility and the amount of radiation you are exposed to while using a laptop was minimal. They go on to say that the radiation emitted from a laptop was in doses similar to that which you are exposed to in everyday life.

While that sounds like a clean bill of health for laptop use, one of the doctors featured in the video did still have some reservations. He was concerned with the heat a laptop created while it was sat on your lap and how that could have a negative effect on sperm production. Thankfully, the addition of something like a laptop cooling pad would be enough to eliminate even this minor issue and for women whose eggs are stored much further away, they have even less to worry about.

With all medical advice, it's always best to keep an eye on what the current consensus on important topics such as this is. You would hope that as technology improves even these minimal risks to our health will become even more insignificant.

Lead image by RawPixel via Pixabay.

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David Lazo's picture

if it takes 3 months to produce sperm how would you explain the man's constant ability to ejaculate multiple times a day every day?

Scott S's picture

This is joking, right? Or do we need an anatomy / physiology lesson :)

David Lazo's picture

Please elaborate. I can't be wrong forever. thanks

cameramanDop Shanghai Hong Kong's picture


Start to finish, it takes 72 days or 2 ½ months to make a sperm. During that time, the it will travel through over 25 ft of microtubes in the testicle.

Paul Parker's picture

Something I never thought I'd see discussed on Fstoppers! Great link btw, health issues for men is something which should be talked about in the open more often...

Gil N's picture

I stopped using my laptop on my lap a couple of months ago when I got a laptop support with a pillow-like bottom. No more sweaty thigs and better air cooling.

Paul Parker's picture

It really is a win win situation. Better for any possible health issues better for comfort, & better for your laptop! I need to make a similar purchase myself.

Paul Parker's picture

So does your pillow have a cooling fan attached?

Kaden Classen's picture

That's one of the benefits of the Surface Pro line, in my opinion. The heat isn't on your lap.

Paul Parker's picture

That's an excellent point! Hopefully more computer manufacturers will follow in their footsteps...

Kirk Darling's picture

At no point have I ever had a laptop resting directly on my testicles. I suspect that if I placed a thermometer against my scrotum with and without a laptop on my knees, it would show that the heat of the laptop does not reach that far. I suspect the amount of clothing I'm wearing has a more significant effect.

Paul Parker's picture

That's a good point Kirk, I really should stop wearing those tin foil hot pants for heavy Photoshop sessions that I got for Christmas... ;)

stir photos's picture

Chuck Norris never had this concern because steel balls aren't susceptible to radiation.

Paul Parker's picture

For those of us not so lucky as Chuck, a cheap cooling pad for the laptop helps to give distance from your laptop & the area in question.

Fun fact. The inverse square law which we apply to lighting in photography can also be used when talking about the fall off in the amount of radiation we are exposed to...

stir photos's picture

good point about the cooling pad! but the other part i'd just say not when so vaguely stated... i was in a battalion that dealt in powerful microwave radiation on a daily basis (radar technology); fall-off was very rare (electromagnetic radiation can travel far and do so efficiently)... not dangerous if properly managed, basically a high SAR to the amount of time exposed would, in extreme scenarios, indicate skin burns or warming of skin (microwaves cooking from the inside out is folklore), so there's procedures for managing it. a cooling pad in this case would be more like a large hill or small mountain type of thing... haha!

Jon Kellett's picture

Of course, as light is just another form of electromagnetic radiation. Except it's not likely to be confused with ionising radiation (like the doc did here), even though it can be very high energy. Acts as both a particle and a wave, too. A bit strange that aspect...

Paul Parker's picture

I'm going to stick to the issues addressed by the World Health Organization for now. If you are curious which tin foil hat to wear though, I'd personally opt for the gold...

Alex Kartashov's picture

Not planning on having any kids anyway, so this is just a good excuse to explain why to any future partners.

Paul Parker's picture

that's a fair comment Alex and while fertility issues is one thing, the by-products of radiation exposure are another. Even though the risk is minimal on both accounts I'd rather not take any chances... Your laptop will probably thank you too!

Jon Kellett's picture

I can't get past the elephant in the room... When most people say radiation, what they mean is ionising radiation. The doctor they spoke to made the assertion that laptops emit ionising radiation, which is patently false.

So there isn't any radiological risk associated with using consumer electronics (except for ionising smoke detectors, except they're very hard to misuse in a way likely to cause risk).

Mark Houston's picture

So no smoking dope in the hot tub while using my laptop...you guys just ruined Sunday.

Paul Parker's picture

hahaha, not even the best laptop cooling pad is gonna help you there!!!

Jon Kellett's picture

A doctor who isn't a specialist in radiological medicine makes stupid uninformed comment outside of his field of expertise. Wow, who'd have thought it.

Clarification: Doc said that the radiation exposure from your laptop is ~equivalent to a continental flight. This is simply and plainly wrong, as laptops do not emit any ionising radiation at all, whereas you are exposed to a trivial amount of ionising radiation when flying, eating bananas and living anywhere where this is concrete or granite.

Laptops (like all electrical devices) to emit a small amount of electromagnetic radiation sure, but that's another name for an electric or magnetic field. Like light, or current running through a conductor... IOW: Not harmful.


Mark Flinn's picture

The only reason I use a laptop is in hopes that it will render me infertile.

Tom Leonard's picture

Been carelessly using laptops for 15+ years and have 11 kids. Just sayin....

Paul Parker's picture

Very happy to hear that Tom, those who are maybe on the lower side of a healthy sperm count would still be best to avoid any possible element (no matter how insignificant) which might be contributing negatively.

You wouldn't start smoking just because one person who smoked 40 a day for the last 50 years had healthy lungs now would you.