So maybe the title is a little dramatic.  But problems with infertility do not rely solely on the woman.  Viewing infertility from a male standpoint the most important factor to consider is environmental toxicity.  Believe it or not, there are clothes you may wear to work everyday that will affect sperm quality and count.

The EPA registers some 83,000 chemicals for use in the US, and the  vast majority of these have never been scrutinized for their health effects.  However, there are some classes that have been evaluated more fully, and the picture is rarely a positive one.  Frequently on the list of common household exposures are the flame retardants.  They are in everything these days, from your mattress to your clothing to your furniture and your dog’s bedding.  One would think we were under constant pressure to undergo spontaneous combustion.

Flame retardants have shown clear effects on the thyroid gland and cancer risk.  This particular study looked at the presence of flame retardants in the house dust of men attending a fertility clinic.  Researchers looked at the presence of two compounds, tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP) and triphenyl phosphate (TPP), and found that they were in 96% and 98% of the men.  As the levels of these compounds in house dust increased, sperm quality decreased.

While one would think that dusting may help the issue, it is not likely to be the case.  Researchers merely looked at dust rather than the blood levels in these patients.  Exposure to these compounds likely comes from multiple sources, including those mentioned above.  The best option is to reduce your overall exposure to these compounds by replacing old cushions, buying clothing without flame retardants and not sleeping on a flame retardant mattress.

In addition to the flame retardants, chemicals like BPA have also show to affect hormone levels in men that could lead to reduced sperm quality and quantity.  Quitting smoking and dietary quality will also have a positive effect on fertility levels in men, with compounds like zinc and lycopene (the red pigment found in tomatoes) having been shown to help.

The bottom line is that, for those men who are a part of an infertile couple, it is not merely your job to just sit patiently at the “infertility” clinic appointment for your partner.  You have to take an active role in improving your health as well.

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.


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