Common chemical may be linked to male infertility
Men’s exposure to common chemical, DEHP (a so-called phthalate), may be linked to male infertility, new study suggests.
Approximately 15% of couples are infertile. That means they can’t conceive even if they have unprotected intercourse on regular base for a year or longer. For about half of those couples, the inability to conceive is related to male factor infertility. Moreover, scientists warn that male fertility is fainting and men are estimated to have their sperm fertilizing potential reduced by 2% each year. Practically, that means that it is not only the sperm concentration that is reduced but their motility as well.
But what is to blame for such a sperm quality decrease? Fertility doctors argue that the cause is more acquired than genetic. Exposure to chemicals commonly found in products of everyday use, like plastic, is a major acquired cause of male infertility.
Researchers from Lund University studied metabolite levels of the phthalate DEHP, a chemical that leaks out from plastics, in urine and the sperm quality of 314 men aged 18-20 from the general Swedish population. The reason the study population comprised of men from the general population rather than from men attending infertility IVF clinics, diagnosed with infertility, often dispose poor sperm quality that is caused by several different factors.
They found that men with higher exposure to this phthalate chemical had their sperm progressive motility decreased. More specifically, sperm progressive motility was lower by 11 percentage points for the group with the highest exposure to DEHP than in the group of men with the lowest exposure. Additionally, men in the group with the highest DEHP exposure had 27% higher HDS (high DNA stainability) a marker of sperm immaturity. Thus, the researchers concluded that exposure to the common phthalate chemical may be linked to male infertility, as it was negatively associated with sperm motility and maturation.
So, plastic use is not recommended for young men of reproductive age who wish to protect their fertility while materials like wood, metal and glass would make some hormonally healthier alternatives.