Impact of Environmental Toxin Exposure on Male Fertility Potential

Sarah C. Krzastek; Jack Farhi; Marisa Gray; Ryan P. Smith


Transl Androl Urol. 2020;9(6):2797-2813. 

In This Article


Two things are clear—we are continuously exposed to environmental toxins in our daily lives and male fertility is declining. Though there is some evidence to suggest a link between these environmental exposures and male fertility, irrefutable evidence linking these everyday toxins to the known male fertility decline is elusive. This is not due to a lack of evidence of these agents to cause reproductive harm but is attributable to the complex longitudinal studies required to establish causality and the ethical concerns of conducting prospective clinical trials involving human exposures. Additionally, while these toxins may result in impairments in semen parameters, it remains to be determined if these changes translate into diminished pregnancy and live birth rates. Until more is known about how our environment affects male fertility, exposure to these compounds should be minimized and avoidance practiced where feasible. The reproductive health of future generations will likely hinge on several factors, including the empowerment of governmental organizations to establish concentration limits, abolish the use of some substances and increasingly regulate the use of agents with potential reproductive harm. This requires a proactive and precautionary approach as opposed to a reactionary one, waiting until the harm is manifest, which is the current regulatory paradigm. New technologies are arising which will give consumers the ability to quantify their exposures and in turn, hopes of increased public recognition of the potential for harm and the advocacy to evoke change on a larger scale.