Glycol Ether Exposure

If your husband is a painter or a decorator by profession, and you're having trouble getting pregnant, you may want him to consider a change in profession. Men whose occupations expose them to glycol ethers tend to have inferior or damaged sperm, according to research done by scientists from the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester.

The study shows that men who work with solvents like glycol ether have two and a half times the risk of developing a low sperm count with few motile sperm as compared to those men with a low exposure to such chemicals. Glycol ethers are found in many products including water-based paints, something used by most painters and decorators.

Size Counts

There are many important factors in the fertility of men with a low concentration of motile sperm per male ejaculate being just one link to conception failures. The size and shape of sperm as well as the quality of its DNA are also crucial elements that may be affected by exposure to chemicals.

Boxer Shorts Help

These findings come to the medical community courtesy of a major undertaking in which 14 UK fertility clinics in 11 cities throughout the UK collaborated by looking at the working lives of 2,118 men. The study attempted to factor in non-chemical elements of the men's lifestyles. For example, it was seen that men who had undergone testicular surgery or who did manual work tended to have lower motile sperm counts, though, in a surprising twist, those men who drank alcohol on a regular basis or who wore boxer shorts were found to have higher quality semen.

One good piece of news arising from the study is that there are very few chemical threats in the workplace that threaten male fertility.

Senior lecturer in Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Manchester, Dr. Andy Povey, said: "We know that certain glycol ethers can affect male fertility and the use of these has reduced over the past two decades. However our results suggest that they are still a workplace hazard and that further work is needed to reduce such exposure."

Meantime, University of Sheffield's Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in Andrology comments, "Infertile men are often concerned about whether chemicals they are exposed to in the workplace are harming their fertility. Therefore it is reassuring to know that on the whole the risk seems to be quite low."

A report of this research has been published in a recent issue of Occupational Environmental Medicine.

Login to comment

Post a comment