It Could be a Men's Health Issue

Photo of doctor mens health issue infertility LocateADoc

Couples who are trying unsuccessfully to have children often describe the emotional toil that they experience. There is often a sense of guilt caused by feeling excitement in the pregnancy of friends while also grieving over their own inability to conceive.

The problem is not just a women’s health issue. A new study suggests that men who have been exposed to toxic chemicals are at a greater risk of fertility problems than their female counterparts. The culprit has been identified as phthalates. These are compounds found in a variety of household products such as: cosmetics, plastics, textiles, detergents, time-release pill coatings, and water that flows through PVC pipes.

Phthalates are known as endocrine disruptors because they disrupt the flow of hormones in the body. Sustained levels have been shown to actually rewire the male reproductive system and interfere with the production of male testosterone. Some scientists believe there is a link between phthalate exposure and everything from testicular development to sperm quality.

Everyone in the medical field has not reached a consensus on these results. The research seems to support the negative effects on male fertility but there is much work still to be done. Part of the problem is the ubiquitous nature of phthalates and the fact that we are constantly exposed to different kinds of phthalates.

Health officials advise that one way to lower your phthalate levels is by gaining a greater awareness of the potential risks that exist. Read the labels on personal care products and try to choose those without phthalates. Avoid heating food in plastic containers as many plastics contain the questionable compounds. Drink from glass containers so that compounds are not transferred directly into your system.

More than 7 million couples experience infertility issues at some point. It could be a women’s health issue but it is equally as likely to be a male reproductive issue.

Visit our fertility page to find additional information regarding this topic.

Further Reading