Pesticide / Herbicide Plants Spraying

(© Tomasz Zajda -

FAIRFAX, Va. — Insecticides may impair a man’s fertility, a new study warns. The research, examining 25 studies spanning almost five decades, found a strong link between exposure to these toxic chemicals and reduced sperm counts in adult men. This systematic review presents consistent and robust evidence of an association between insecticide exposure and lower sperm concentration.

The researchers, led by Dr. Melissa Perry, Dean of the George Mason University College of Public Health in the United States, advocate for policies to limit men’s exposure to insecticides, particularly those planning to father children.

“Understanding how insecticides affect sperm concentration in humans is critical given their ubiquity in the environment and documented reproductive hazards. Insecticides are a concern for public health and all men, who are exposed primarily through the consumption of contaminated food and water,” says Lauren Ellis, MPH, a doctoral student at Northeastern University, in a media release.

The team reviewed nearly five decades of human studies on the health impacts of two common insecticide classes: organophosphates and N-methyl carbamates. They consistently found associations with lower sperm counts, a concern that Dr. Perry emphasized, especially considering other studies pointing to a general decline in semen quality.

Sperm flow
(© Tatiana Shepeleva –

Dr. Perry stressed the inherent nature of insecticides as substances designed to kill, underscoring the substantial evidence that supports reducing exposure, especially among men planning to start families. The team expressed surprise at the robustness of their findings.

Finally, the researchers call for policymakers to take this evidence into account, making decisions to decrease individual exposure to insecticides and recognize it as a significant public health issue.

“This review is the most comprehensive review to date, sizing up more than 25 years of research on male fertility and reproductive health. The evidence available has reached a point that we must take regulatory action to reduce insecticide exposure,” says Dr. Perry, the senior author of the paper.

The findings are published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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South West News Service writer Stephen Beech contributed to this report.

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1 Comment

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