Background: Substantial evidence indicates that exposure to extremely low frequency-electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMFs) affects male reproductive system.
Objective: The goal of this study was to evaluate the effects of long-term irradiation with ELF-EMF on sperm quality and quantity and testicular structure.
Material and Methods: In this case-control study, sixty male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into six groups. Experimental groups were exposed to ELF-EMF (50 Hz EMF, 100 µT) for either 1 h/day for 52 days (Group 1), 4 h/day for 52 days (Group 3), 1 h/day for 5 days (Group 5), 4 h/day for 52 days (Group 7). Groups 2, 4, 6 and 8 were only sham exposed at durations equal to Groups 1, 3, 5 and 7, respectively.
Results: Both count and motility of sperms were significantly decreased in animals exposed to ELF-EMF (1 h/day for 52 days, 4 h/day for 52 day, and 4 h/day for 5 days) compared to the sham-exposed groups (p <0.05). Serum testosterone levels showed a significant decrease in the animals exposed to ELF-EMF (4 h/day for 5 days) compared to the control groups (p <0.05). A significant decrease was observed in the volume of the seminiferous tubules, seminiferous tubules epithelium and interstitial tissue in the animals exposed to ELF-EMF for 4 h/day for 5 days. Tubules length was also reduced by 18% in animals exposed to ELF-EMF (4 h/day for 5 days).
Conclusion: Our results show that ELF-EMF can reduce spermatocyte count and motility and is able to induce structural changes in testicular tissue.