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Hum Reprod. 2001 Aug;16(8):1768-76.

Contribution of environmental factors to the risk of male infertility.

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Unidad de Andrologia, Hospital Italiano Garibaldi, 2000 Rosario, Argentina.



An increasing number of reports suggest that chemical and physical agents in the environment, introduced and spread by human activity, may affect male fertility in humans. We investigated the relationships between exposure to environmental agents and seminal characteristics, and the concentrations of reproductive hormones in the serum of men seeking infertility treatment.


We studied 225 male partners from consecutively recruited couples, who had their first infertility consultation between 1995 and 1998, in the Litoral Sur region of Argentina, one of the most productive farming regions in the world.


A multivariate logistic regression model showed that exposure to pesticides and solvents is significantly associated with sperm threshold values well below the limit for male fertility. We also found that men exposed to pesticides had higher serum oestradiol concentrations, and that men exposed to solvents had lower LH concentrations than non-exposed men. All of these effects were greater in men with primary infertility than in men with secondary infertility.


We have shown that environmental factors contribute to the severity of infertility, and that this may worsen the effects of pre-existing genetic or medical risk factors.

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