What causes male infertility?

The deterioration of semen quality;

It’s been 30 years since the first information on the decrease in semen quality in industrialized countries was first published. In fact, WHO (World Health Organization) has had to reduce the normozoospermia parameters from 100 million sperm cells/ml in 1985 to the current 20 million – that is about to become 15 million/ml.

During the last decade, Institut Marquès has dedicated most of its I+D efforts to the study of the male factor. Our investigations and publications demonstrate that the main cause of male infertility isn’t given by his bad life-habits, as it was traditionally believed. According to our investigation, the key determining moment of a male’s fertile future is given during his testicular development as a fetus. This is due to the estrogenic disruptors, a long listing of chemical substances that act as estrogens in the human organism. When a pregnant woman is affected by these, the levels of estrogen her blood passes on to her male fetus are too high. This explains the great variations in semen quality between different countries or regions within one same country, and, thus, it is the reason why we consider chemical elements to be the main cause of male infertility. Institut Marquès has also carried out several studies on semen quality following this investigation trend, and has recently analyzed, next to CSIC (Superior Council of Scientific Investigation) the concentration of endocrine disruptors in maternal milk in autonomous communities with great difference in semen quality.

Risky professions

Risk professions

There are certain professions that require contact with substances or toxic physical agents that increase the risk of infertility. The list of agents that decrease the quality of sperm includes: pesticides (farmers), radiation, heat (workers that use ovens, cast iron workers, drivers), metals (metalworkers), glycol ethers (shipyard and cast iron workers).

Physical agents such as heat and radiation have been documented on specific cases rather than epidemiological studies at a larger scale, whilst others, such as the effect of microwaves and electromagnetic fields on human beings, lack further study. Metals – especially lead and mercury – have been demonstrated to be toxic for spermatozoids in intoxicated workers or others submitted to a regular exposition.

Before jumping to definitive conclusions it is necessary to carry on further and thorougher investigations.

Do medicaments affect fertility?

There are multiple drugs that may affect fertility. It is essential that, when writing a patient’s clinical history, the medicines he or she has taken previously are taken into account. Chemotherapeutic medicines lay within the most harmful ones for reproductive health. It’s important to know wether the patient has been submitted to any chemotherapy treatment and duration of it.

Other medicines that may affect fertility are: immunosuppressives, antidepressants, antiepileptics, antimetabolites, neuroleptics, hormones, and some antibiotics.