Environmental Causes of Infertility
Certain industrial chemicals, environmental pollutants and radiation are known to contribute to or cause infertility. Lead poisoning, for example, has long been associated with infertility in both men and women.
Chemotherapy and x-ray therapy for cancer can be extremely toxic to sperm and eggs and can cause permanent infertility. Our California fertility program recommends that men who will be undergoing chemotherapy store their sperm before treatment. Sometimes we are also able to do egg retrieval before a woman's cancer treatment and freeze the eggs or embryos for later use.
Long soaks in the bath tub or hot tub or long hours of sitting (for example, truck driving) and excessive bicycling can cause the temperature in the scrotum to increase enough to impair sperm production. Because sperm take up to two months to mature, winter saunas can affect the sperm of early spring. A febrile illness (one with a temperature) can also lead to a significant decline in sperm motility that may take up to 3-4 months to restore. Extreme exertions in exercise can also significantly reduce sperm motility for several hours.