Is It True That Nuclear Radiation Can Cause Infertility?

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Misconceptions about science and nuclear engineering Indonesia in a society already relatively acute. One of them is related to nuclear radiation, which in this case is the gamma radiation. As if in any dose of gamma radiation can cause infertility until genetic defect. To prove the statement, Warstek did a poll via Instagram story with the question "what is nuclear radiation can cause infertility?". Obtained data 254 people (82%) answered "Yes" and 57 people (18%) answered "no". When generalized, from 5 people then 4 people would state that nuclear can cause infertility and only 1 person that said no.

The results of the poll warstek in instastory @warstek_com with the question "what is nuclear radiation can cause infertility?"

The stereotype of the "cause of nuclear sterile" sounding quite often. To the extent that often circulated rumour that students should nuclear engineering prodi married in semester 5 because potentially barren. Whereas in fact the practical work done just dealing with the source of the radiation with a very low dose.

Concerns against nuclear radiation is not completely wrong. Menggeneralisir wrong is that nuclear radiation is not at all secure. In fact, every day humans are bombarded by nuclear radiation constantly, either from outer space to Earth, even from within the body. The average population of the Earth receive radiation dose of 2.4 mSv/year [1]. Even some fruit and vegetables turns emits nuclear radiation (K40), but in very low doses. Fruit and vegetable is banana, avocado, spinach, mushrooms, nuts, and all that is rich with potassium. [2] Figure 1. A typical annual background radiation dose (source: FOREIGN NATIONAL) [1]

As for the related grapevine that nuclear radiation can cause infertility, then the key is on the dose of radiation received the body, especially in the reproductive organs [3-4]. Dose tinggilah which increases the chances of infertility, about 250-350 mSv. That was only temporary, not permanent infertility [4-5]. It was only at a dose of radiation of 2000 mSv, then permanent infertility can occur [4].

What about for women? Radiation dose 3000 mSv could result in infertility in about 30% of women's young age, but can be up to 100% at the age of more than 40 years. The effect of radiation is indeed subject to age, considering the condition of the organ changes over increased old person [4].

Gonads is a part of the body's most vulnerable with gamma radiation [3]. The process of pemandulan in men occurs due to nuclear radiation inhibits sperm production in the gonads. The radiation dose is 150 mSv can decrease sperm production from the gonads. While up to 300 mSv dose, causing the sperm can not be produced (azoospermia), but these temporary nature. Azoospermia in the long-term even permanent can occur if the gonads receive radiation dose of more than 2000 mSv [4].

So, theoretically, nuclear radiation can make someone barren. It's just that, infertility occurs if and only if someone is exposed to very high doses of radiation than normal conditions, thousands of times higher than the annual background radiation dose received human and radiasinya concentrated on reproductive organs.

If someone simply pocketed the source of gamma radiation with a dose rate of 0.1 mSv per year, then up to tens of won't happen any year barrenness.

So did live near NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS at all can not make someone barren. The radiation given off NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS into the environment only 0.01 mSv/year [5-6]. Less than a thousandth of the dose is needed so that people could be barren. Factually, in fact people who work at NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS nobody ever barren due to the effects radiasinya. If that works in just safe from barrenness, let alone the outside?

The key to high radiation doses, need so that someone can be infertile due to nuclear radiation.

How are the chances people get exposed to radiation as high as that? There are several possibilities.

First, it is exposed to high doses of radiation from the explosion of a nuclear bomb. But there are opportunities if the person who got the radiation that was killed in advance due to acute radiation sickness [6].

Second, high-dose radiation affected from Chernobyl NUCLEAR POWER PLANT accident like. It's just that, more than likely due to thyroid cancer exposed terlepasnya iodine-131. Thyroid cancer is a type of cancer that is most easily cured.

Third, when undergoing radiotherapy, for example due to suffering from prostate cancer. The reproductive organs (gonads) are definitely exposed to the radiation dose is high, and could be affected by the temporary infertility. Some time later, the barrenness that will be lost and the reproductive organs function normally again. Unless a given radiation dose is too high, then there is a possibility of permanent infertility.

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Fourth, if toying with the radiotherapy/x-rays/CT-scans are then memapari yourself with high doses of gamma radiation. Infertility is not just a possibility, but also acute radiation sickness which then leads to death.

Fifth, when swimming in the pools of nuclear fuel (nuclear fuel pool) and touch the tubes of nuclear fuel. But before you can touch the nuclear fuel tubes, chances are someone would have died first because it exposed the shot by security officers.

So, nuclear radiation is not just causing infertility. In low doses, nuclear radiation is not more harm on the karsinogeniknya than eating fried foods at the roadside. New nuclear radiation is dangerous and potentially cause infertility in very high doses, exceeding 200 mSv. Radiation doses as high as this can only be found in places be regulated strictly and inaccessible vain people. So, excessive concern that nuclear radiation in even low doses can cause infertility have absolutely no basis.

Why the myth of "nuclear cause barren" can be created and spread in Indonesia society?

(1) most likely comes from the myth that nuclear radiation can cause genetic defects inherited, then it grew wild up to venturing on infertility;

(2) no nuclear workers who experience infertility due to working in the nuclear field, even radiografer though. Infertility detected was due to radiotherapy in the medical field, which is the other possibilities of the origin of the growing issue of wild that any nuclear radiation in doses can make barren.


  1. World Nuclear Association. Nuclear Radiation and Health Effects, updated July 2016 (, accessed January 4, 2018.
  2. 10 Common Food Natural Beradioaktif, January 2014. (, diakses 7 Januari 2018.
  3. Amanda L. Ogilvy-Stuart, Stephen M. Shalet. 1993. Effect of Radiation on the Human Reproductive System. Environmental Health Perspectives Supplements 101 (Suppl. 2): 109-116.
  4. Mondjo. 2013. Proteksi Radiasi. Yogyakarta: Program Studi Teknik Nuklir, Universitas Gadjah Mada.
  5. Robert Hargraves. 2012. Thorium Energy Cheaper Than Coal. Hanover: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
  6. Wade Allison. 2009. Radiation And Reason. York: Wade Allison Publishing.
R. Andika Putra Dwijayanto

R. Andika Putra Dwijayanto

Alumni S1 Teknik Nuklir Universitas Gadjah Mada. Peneliti Fisika Reaktor dan Teknologi Keselamatan Reaktor.
R. Andika Putra Dwijayanto
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