How can heavy metal toxicity affect your chances of having a baby?
Heavy metals are pervasive in food, water, air, tobacco smoke, and alcoholic beverages. Experimental studies suggest that many metals have adverse effects on the male reproductive function. Metals can lead to the loss of fertility and libido or to impotence by affecting:
- the testis size
- semen quality (e.g. sperm motility which describes the ability of sperm to move properly towards an egg) and quantity
- the secretory function of the prostate and seminal vesicles
- the reproductive endocrine function
Moreover, exposure to cadmium, lead, and inorganic arsenic may contribute to prostate cancer development (1).
New studies suggest that men exposed to heavy metals in their environment make it more difficult for a woman to get pregnant. Here are some studies that have shown the effect of heavy metals on male fertility:
- Lead: There is considerable agreement that high or even moderate concentrations of lead cause fertility problems in humans. Fatima et al. showed that>40μg/dL of lead in blood produced a decline of sperm count (<20 × 106 cells/mL). In addition, they observed lower motility (<50%) and morphology (<14%), with >35μg/dL in whole blood (2). Telisman and colleagues showed signiﬁcantly lower sperm density and motility with high blood lead concentrations (36.7μg/dL) (3). High concentrations of lead seem to be clearly associated with sperm damage. Another study, called the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that increased blood lead levels correlated with a 15% decrease in fertility in men. Using a combined (male/female) measure, they found an odds ratio of 0.82 (95% confidence interval, 0.68 – 0.97) for male lead exposure, accounting for a 28% decline in the probability of pregnancy for each menstrual cycle with each successive male blood lead concentration (4).
- Cadmium: At high concentrations, cadmium could aﬀect semen quality. According to Akinloye et al., men with high concentrations of cadmium in seminal plasma (65μg/dL) had 5.16 × 106 cells/mL of sperm count and 36% of motile sperms (5).
- Mercury: There is clear evidence that high concentrations of mercury in the body will harm sperm. Choy et al. showed that high concentrations of total mercury (inorganic and organic) measuring in whole blood (40.6 mmol/L) resulted in <50% of progressive motility, <14 of normal morphology and <20 x 106 (6). In another study carried out in Hong Kong, it was found that infertile males were found to have approximately 40% higher hair mercury levels then fertile males of the similar age (7).
Heavy Metal Sources include:
- Aluminium: Cigarette smoke, certain medications (asprin, ant-acids, nasal sprays), cookware, deodorants, dental amalgams, tap water, certain food additives
- Lead: Cigarette smoke, cutlery, hair dyes, lead pipes, car exhaust, paint
- Mercury: Dental amalgams, thermometers, tattooing, fabric softeners, cosmetics, laxatives, insecticides, seafood, vaccinations
- Nickel: Stainless steel cookware, cigarette smoke, fertilisers, jewellery, hydrogenated fats, margarine
- Arsenic: Care exhausts, coloured chalk, household detergents, certain soil
- Cadmium: is most commonly found in cigarette smoke, but is also used in batteries, metal coatings and plastics.
How can I tell if I have heavy metal accumulation?
Jane Ma can carry out a simple Urine Test to assess the level of toxic metals in the body.
How can I reduce my exposure to heavy metals and eliminate them from my body?
Start to be more conscious of the sources of unnecessary toxins in your environment and gradually make changes. Begin by incorporating more organic foods into your diet and change your cleaning products and personal care items to chemical-free. If you use a plastic water bottle, swap to a glass bottle or BPA free plastic. There are lots of small changes you can make that will significantly reduce the chemical levels in your home.
Herbs, nutrients and even dietary changes can enhance the body’s detoxification processes in order to avoid the bio-accumulation of heavy metals and enhance the clearance of them. If you are considering starting a family it is worth considering doing a pre-conception detoxification program to increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Jane Ma has the expertise and experience to assist you to detoxify your body from heavy metal toxicity and improve your fertility rate.
1) S. Telišman, B. Čolak B, A. Pizent, J. Jurasović, P. Cvitković. Reproductive toxicity of low-level lead exposure in men. Environ Res 2007;105:256-66.
2) P. Fatima, B.C. Debnath, M. M. Hossain et al., “Relationship of blood and semen lead level with semen parameter,” Mymensingh Medical Journal, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 405-414, 2010.
3) S. Talisman, P. Cvitkovic, J. Jurasovic, A. Pizent, M. Gavella, and B. Rocic, “Semen quality and reproductive endrocrine furction in relation to biomarkers of lead, cadmium, zinc and copper in men,” Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 108, no. 1, pp. 45-53, 2000.
4) L. Buck, R. Sundarama, E. Schistermana, A. Sweeneyb, C. Lynchc, R. Gore-Langtond, Z. Chena, S. Kima, , K. Caldwelle, D. Barr, “Heavy metals and couple fecundity, the LIFE Study,” Chemosphere, vol. 87, no. 11, pp. 1201–1207, 2012
5) O. Akinloye, A. O. Arowojolu, O. B. Shittu, and J. I. Anetor, “Cadmium toxicity: a possible cause of male infertility in Nigeria,” Reproductive Biology, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 17–30, 2006.
6) C.M.Y. Choy, C.W.L. Lam, L.T.F. Cheung, C.M. Briton-Jones, L.P. Cheung, and C.J. Haines, “Infertiltiy, blood mercury concentrations and dietary seafood consumption: a case-control study,” An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, vol.109, no. 10, pp. 1121-1125, 2002.