Is environmental toxicity contributing to male infertility?


Here’s a fact few are discussing: Male fertility is declining, and studies show that environmental toxins could be one reason.  

Reproductive problems are rising at an alarming rate in both men and women. For men, reproductive issues are increasing by about 1 percent yearly in Western countries. That may not sound like a lot, but over time, it adds up. Within one decade, 10 percent of males will be affected; within 50 years, up to 50 percent of men may be considered infertile. 

This problem of male infertility also affects other aspects of men to reproduction, such as declining sperm counts, declining testosterone levels, and increasing rates of testicular cancer. American women have also experienced increased miscarriage rates of around 1 percent yearly. What’s alarming is this phenomenon of fertility rates dropping is also happening worldwide since 1960 by almost 1 percent each year. 

While there can be several different factors contributing to infertility, it was in the 1990s that researchers became concerned with the trend of declining fertility in men. In 1992, a study found a 50% reduction in sperm counts in men over the course of 60 years. Other studies found disturbing trends affecting total mobile sperm count. This research showed that approximately 10 percent of men had declining numbers of total motile sperm.

The effect of environmental toxicity on human reproduction

One area of male infertility concerns has been how environmental toxins may affect reproduction. Since it’s unethical to do human studies exposing harmful environmental compounds on unborn babies, scientists have tested certain environmental compounds in animal models. Their findings from these studies have shown that environmental exposure to toxins can alter the hormonal balance in animals affecting their reproduction; it’s plausible this same association could be altering human reproduction. 

One of the main concerns of possible environmental toxins is endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors mimic hormones within the human body, possibly throwing off the necessary hormonal balance required for successful reproduction. Some of these environmental toxins may include phthalates or plasticizers found in most plastics such as bottled water and food containers, as well as pesticides and herbicides, as well as heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and arsenic found in food, toxic gases, and synthetic organic compounds like phosphorus. 

Another environmental toxins that could be affecting male infertility includes pollution. In addition, exposure to radiation from laptops, cell phones, and modems could be another explanation for low sperm counts, reduced sperm motility, and abnormally shaped sperm. 

Every year, around 2,000 new chemicals are introduced into the environment all of us are exposed to in our daily lives. Currently, over 80,000 chemicals have been registered in the U.S. to be used legally in packaging, food containers, pesticides, and so on. The problem is how well-regulated these chemicals are. Many of these chemicals introduced into our environment have had minimal testing. The only time any of them are removed from the market is when harm to human health has been proved, and sometimes that can take decades. As a result, scientists have raised concerns over possible inadequate safety testing of these chemicals, along with questions of long-term exposure. 

 Everyday strategies to reduce exposure to environmental toxins

We won’t be able to eliminate all exposures to environmental toxins, but there are certain steps you can take to minimize this risk:

  • Using personal care products that say “BPA-free” and “free of phthalates or parabens” is a good start. 
  • Toxic chemicals can be present with household dust. Mop and dust regularly to prevent dust buildup.
  • Use cleaners with non-toxic chemicals
  •  Before entering your house, remove your shoes. Your footwear can carry toxins into your household.
  • Toxic chemicals can buildup in saturated fat. Limit foods high in saturated fat from animals and eat more plant-based foods.
  • Residue from pesticides can be present on the outside of produce, so always wash all fruits and veggies before eating. 

Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.

Is environmental toxicity contributing to male infertility?
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Dr. David B. Samadi

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Dr. David B. Samadi