Environmental Causes of Infertility 

Richard W. Pressinger, M.Ed. - Wayne Sinclair, M.D. (Board Certified, Immunology)

The evidence has increased dramatically over the past ten years demonstrating how infertility and miscarriage are frequently environmentally caused disorders.  This fact offers encouragement to couples attempting to conceive since it strongly implies that lifestyle changes can greatly improve the likelihood of conception.  The following report outlines the latest medical research pertaining to this topic – relevant statistics and suspected environmental causes of infertility and miscarriage.  People wishing more information on any particular subject should acquire the complete article listed in the box to the right of the summary.  Information was compiled by Richard Pressinger, (previously a graduate student at the College of Public Health, University of South Florida) and edited by Wayne Sinclair, M.D. (Board Certified Immunology).

Your odds of being infertile differ with age:

15-24 years old………... 4.1%

25-34 years old……….. 13.1%

35-44 years old……….  21.4%

National Center for Health Statistics

Redbook Magazine, August, 1993

The risk of miscarriage differs with age

20-29 years old……….  10% risk of miscarriage

45 or older…………….; 50% risk of miscarriage

Chatelaine Magazine

November 1993, pg.26

Male infertility increases over past 40 years

One-half of 1% of men were functionally sterile in 1938.  Today it has reached between 8-12% (an over 15-fold increase).  “Functionally sterile” is defined as sperm counts below 20 million per milliliter of semen.

Dr. Cecil Jacobson

Reproductive Genetics Center

Vienna, Virginia

Miscarriage more common with low sperm counts

Women experiencing miscarriages typically had husbands with lower sperm counts and 48% “visually abnormal sperm.”  Men who fathered normal pregnancies had 25% higher sperm counts and only 5% visually abnormal sperm.

Drs. Mirjam Furuhjelm and Birgit Jonson

Dept. of Obst. And Gyn., Sabbatsberg Hospital,

Karolinska Institute, Stockholm Sweden

International J. of Fertility, 7(1):17-21,1962


40% of all infertility cases are due to the male

Dr. Pat McShane

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology,

Boston Massachusetts

Nationwide infertility rates

A study by the National Center for Health Statistics estimated in 1988 that 8.4% of women 15-44 years had impaired ability to have children and about half of these couples eventually conceive.  (These are overall average infertility figures – statistics will vary greatly depending on the age of the individual).

Dr. Howard Jones

New England Journal of Medicine

December 2, 1993, pg. 1710

Article entitled: “The Infertile Couple”

Fertility treatments not very effective

Expensive fertility treatments resulted I only a 6 percentage point  improvement in achieving pregnancy over “infertile” couples who just “kept trying.”  In a study of 1,145 couples who had been diagnosed as infertile, only half of them were treated to help attain pregnancy.  After a two to seven year follow-up, pregnancies occurred in 41% of treated couples and 35% of the untreated couples.

Dr. John A. Collins

Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology

McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario

New England Journal of Medicine

November 17, 1983

More evidence that fertility treatments not effective

Another study of 2,000 couples found “roughly the same” small improvements in achieving pregnancy when comparing couples who sought infertility treatments and those who ept trying.

Dr. John A. Collins

Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology

McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario

Sterility Fertility Journal, Fall Issue, 1993

Infertility treatments a $1 billion a year industry

Health Facts

Vol. 19 (176), January, 1994

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