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Articles on Men's Health / Prostate

Pesticides & Insecticides Can Decrease Fertility in Men

Since the introduction of pesticides and the wide development of certain plastics, the sperm count in men has dropped over the past few decades. A majority of pesticides have estrogenic effects and excess estrogen can reduce male fertility. Studies exist that have shown the direct link between pesticides and infertility in men --- a study in the Netherlands published in The Lancet makes this direct link and provides significant data.


  • 836 couples who had sought medical help with fertility were examined

  • Strong correlation between poor sperm quality in men and the use of pesticides on the job

    • Highest-risk jobs: livestock, dairy farmers, fruit & flower growers, gardeners

Recent Data

Epidemiologist Shanna Swan from the University of Missouri compared fertility in urban vs. rural men and found that rural men had lower quality sperm.

Swan’s study appeared in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. She reported that men in rural Boone County, Missouri had 42% lower sperm count than urban Minneapolis. The Missouri men still successfully reproduce, however with fewer sperm; it means the couple may have to work harder to conceive.

Swan and her colleagues deduced that pesticides accounted for the difference in sperm count in the men in their study. 57% of Boone County land is devoted to agriculture.

They tested their hypothesis by examining urine from men who worked with farm chemicals.

Men with high levels of the following associated chemicals were affected:
Herbicide alachlor – 30 times more likely to have diminished sperm quality
Insecticide diazanon – 16.7 times more likely to have poor sperm quality
Herbicide atrazine - 11.3 times more likely to have poor sperm quality

It is widely recognized that men are generally more involved with spraying pesticides in the garden or on weeds. They are also more apt to use insecticides, particularly on ants around the home.

Please be careful. Many of these common insecticides and pesticides can be absorbed through the skin. Wash carefully after handling any such substances. Wear a mask when using these chemicals OR consider leaving those weeds in your garden and learn to look at them differently – perhaps as “volunteers”. Since you didn’t plant them, they have “volunteered” to be in your garden or on your lawn!


Tielemans E et al, “Pesticides exposure and decreased fertilization rates in vitro,” The Lancet, Vol 345, Aug 7, 1999.

Have Sperm Densities Declined? A Reanalysis of Global Trend Data : Environmental Health Perspectives 105-11, 1997