Environmental disruptors and Male fertility

05:11 PM Jan 28, 2020 | Team Udayavani |

In recent time’s male infertility and deteriorating semen quality has been an increasingly prevalent issue; researchers point towards changing environmental and lifestyle conditions as arguably the most significant cause of this phenomenon. Ultimately, male infertility may be the result of exposure to any combination of factors such as chemical toxins, smoking, alcohol, diet, exercise, obesity, different types of stress, and the increasing prevalence of cellphone and ionizing radiation.


Environmental effects on mature men:

Several of the following occupational and lifestyle factors to be discussed below are regarded as major areas of concern. Most of our day to day products or things which we use are either has fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Nitric oxide has been found to reduce sperm motility, viability, and other semen parameters; it also has been found in some cases to impair the ability of spermatozoa to penetrate the oocyte. Food preservatives are yet another method for toxins to enter the bloodstream and cause fertility issues. The other important factor is environmental chemicals and toxins have the potential to negatively affect on fertility. Chemicals generate Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) which damage the DNA of the sperms.

Plastics usage has a major impact on fertility. BPA from lid containers can migrate into food and become circulated in the body. Since this is such a prevalent chemical that is known to reduce sperm count, motility, and viability, it is a significant environmental threat to male fertility. Along with it heavy metal toxicity a strong negative correlation exists between cadmium and sperm concentrations. Due to its ant steroidogenic effects that lower testosterone production. Metal workers and other men who are exposed to such metals through their occupation may be rendered less fertile due

To the toxic effects of these metals.


Lifestyle exposure:

Exposure to certain lifestyle and occupational factors can influence the adult testis directly and lead to impaired spermatogenesis. It is well established that smoking has detrimental effects on spermatogenesis as it has been correlated with significantly lower sperm counts, decreased motility, and impaired morphology. Smoking not only interferes with oxygen supply, but also exposes smokers to thousands of potentially harmful substances such as alkaloids, nitrosamines, nicotine, and hydroxycotine to name a few. These substances can lead to the formation of ROS and reactive nitrogen species, which leads to oxidative stress and ultimately infertility.

Chronic alcohol consumption appears to harm spermatogenesis and male fertility. Impotence, testicular atrophy, and loss of sexual interest are associated with alcoholism, and reduced FSH, LH, and testosterone levels have been found as a result of excessive drinking. Like alcohol, certain drugs whether therapeutic, recreational, or performance enhancing can have adverse effects on spermatogenesis. Diet and obesity are two important lifestyle factors that can influence spermatogenesis. Obese and overweight individuals with high body mass index (BMI) are at risk of infertility. Men with a BMI higher than 25 are considered three times more at risk of infertility due to the reduction in sperm count and increase of DNA fragmentation.

 Scrotal heat stress:

Optimal spermatogenesis requires a temperature approximately 2°C cooler than core body temperature (37°C). It is widely accepted that increased scrotal temperatures impair spermatogenesis. Scrotal pathologies such as varicocele and cryptorchidism can increase testicular temperature. Occupational exposure in certain professions, for example bakers, welders, furnace operators, and professional drivers, has been shown to directly relate to levels of infertility because of the increase in scrotal temperatures, often for extended periods of time. Other lifestyle factors like hot baths, sauna use, and excessive exercise can cause testicular heat stress especially in combination with previously mentioned conditions.

Mobile phone radiation: 

Another health concern is the use of cell phones and the effects of ionizing radiation on male fertility. Since cell phones are constantly being used across the globe and are often placed in the pockets of pants, mere centimeters from the testes, these phones are a very noteworthy topic. Various epidemiological studies proposed that cell phone usage might cause decreases in sperm count and other sperm parameters.

Psychological stress: 

Numerous individuals struggle with psychological stress each day as a result of work, home life, and a variety of issues. This psychological phenomenon can be an acute stress on reproductive functions and has adverse effects on general health.

D.N.B(Urology), Consultant Urologist & Andrologies,
Apollo Fertility  IVF center, Navi Mumbai.


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