Nine Common Actions and Habits That
Can Lower Men’s Sperm Count
Though you may not think about your (or your partner’s) sperm count very often, it can obviously become center-stage when trying to have a baby. While a normal sperm count is 20 million or more sperm per milliliter of semen, many factors can decrease this amount to 10 million or fewer sperm per milliliter of semen, which indicates low sperm concentration.
Low sperm count is a leading cause of male infertility in America.
Low sperm count is one of the leading causes of male infertility, and about 10 percent of Americans of reproductive age experience infertility (that’s about 6 million couples), so this is a major issue.
Whether you are planning to conceive in the near future, or have had trouble getting pregnant in the past, take a look through these common activities that lower men’s sperm count (and pass them along to your friends who may also benefit).
1. Exposure to Phthalates
Phthalates are widely used industrial compounds used as plastic softeners and in hairsprays, perfumes, cosmetics, toys, shower curtains, wood finishers, lubricants, certain medical devices and more. These chemicals have been linked to low sperm count, low sperm motility, and an increased percent of abnormally shaped sperm, according to a study by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health’s Occupational Health Program.
In fact, men with the highest levels of phthalate exposure were three to five times more likely to have a low sperm count or low sperm motility than men with the lowest exposure.
What’s the Problem With Phthalates?
Animal studies on certain phthalates have shown the chemicals may cause a variety of problems, including reproductive and developmental harm, organ damage, immune suppression, endocrine disruption and cancer.
The major concern is that, as these chemicals are so ubiquitous in our environment, no one knows for sure what the long-term exposure, even in small doses, may be doing to humans, and particularly developing infants.
Studies, including one conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published in Environmental Health Perspectives, found that people have higher levels of certain phthalates in their systems than was previously thought. Humans can be exposed not only through ingestion and inhalation, but also by direct injection and skin contact.
Perhaps most concerning are these chemicals’ effects on reproductive health. In a study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives, it was found that pregnant women exposed to common levels of phthalates might have baby boys with smaller genitals and incomplete testicular descent.
Baby boys born to moms with high levels of phthalates in their systems have a 10-times greater chance of suffering reproductive damage.
The higher the woman’s exposure, the more likely the baby’s reproductive health would be harmed. The study also reported that changes occurred at phthalate levels found in 25 percent of U.S. women.
In fact, among the women with the highest exposures (this 25 percent of the women), their sons were 10 times more likely to have a shorter-than-expected distance between the anus and the base of the penis, which is an indicator of impacts on their reproductive systems.
While the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association said the “use of phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products is supported by an extensive body of scientific research and data that confirms safety,” the chief of endocrinology at Northwestern University, Andrea Dunaif, said the findings present “strong evidence in humans that this endocrine-disrupting chemical is associated with changes in boys.”
Phthalates and Sperm Damage
In a study conducted by Dr. Susan Duty, a post-doctoral scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, and others also found an association between sperm damage and phthalate exposure in adult men. Said Dr. Ted Schettler, science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network:
“The correlation found in this study is extremely troubling and deserves urgent follow up. The last thing you want is DNA damage to sperm, which can lead to infertility and may also be linked to miscarriages, and birth defects, infertility and cancer in offspring … The link with