REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND THE WORKPLACE
Men’s Reproductive Health in the Workplace
Though there is no complete list of reproductive hazards in the workplace, a number of workplace substances have been identified as reproductive hazards for men. Reproductive hazards are substances that affect the ability to have healthy children. Learn more about specific exposures found to have reproductive effects in men and how you can lower your exposures.
Some examples of reproductive hazards include:
- Various chemicals and solvents
- Legal and illegal drugs
Scientists are just beginning to understand how reproductive hazards affect the male reproductive system. Although more than 1,000 workplace chemicals have been shown to have reproductive effects on animals, most have not been studied in humans. There are over 72 million unique chemicals registered by the American Chemical Society, with about 15,000 new substances added every day, most of which are not tested for reproductive health effects.
Reproductive Health Problems Potentially Associated with Workplace Exposures
The Table below shows examples of reproductive hazards for men in the workplace. Although studies have found that workplace exposures may affect the reproductive system in some men, these effects do not necessarily occur in every worker. Some of the agents listed in the Table are well-known reproductive hazards (such as lead), while the scientific evidence for the others may not be as definitive.
Whether or not an exposure will cause a reproductive problem depends on:
- The amount of time you’re exposed
- The amount of the hazard you’re exposed to
- How you were exposed. Learn more about how exposure occurs.
- How your body reacts to the hazard
These are only examples of hazards. Do not assume that a substance is safe if it is missing from the table.
Table - Examples of Potential Reproductive Hazards1
Low Hormone Levels
|insecticides, lead, organophosphate, DDE, manganese, phthalates|
Low Number of Sperm
|lead, diesel exhaust, pesticide, bisphenol A, organophosphate, chromium, paraquat/malathion|
Irregular Sperm Shape
|insecticides, lead, carbon disulfide, pesticides, bisphenol A, petrochemical, carbofuran, nickel|
Irregular Sperm Genetics
|phthalates, styrene, organophosphate, carbaryl, fenvalerate, lead, benzene|
Chemicals in Semen
|lead, trichloroethylene, boron, cadmium|
Low Amount of Semen
|lead, organophosphate, paraquat/malathion|
Low Number of Swimming Sperm
|insecticides, diesel exhaust, lead, carbon disulfide, phthalates, pesticides, bisphenol A, fenvalerate, petrochemical, welding, N, N-dimethylformamide, abamectin, paraquat/malathion|
Lower Sex Drive
|carbon disulfide, bisphenol A|
Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
|bisphenol A, bicycle saddles|
Lower Penis Sensitivity
Lower Ejaculation Quality
Can You Expose Your Family to Workplace Hazards?
Your family may never come to your workplace but could be exposed to hazards in your workplace that you may accidentally bring home. This could affect your partner’s health, the health of a pregnancy or your children. Many chemicals can be carried to your car or to your home on your skin, hair, clothes, shoes or tool box exposing others in the family.
If you’d like to learn how the workplace can affect women’s fertility and ability to have healthy children, learn more on our women’s reproductive health in the workplace page.
Learn more about how you can lower job exposure.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Public Health Action Plan for the Detection, Prevention and Management of Infertility
1 Assessing the Reproductive Health of Men with Occupational Exposures. Schrader S, Marlow K. Asian Journal of Andrology2014; 16:23-30.
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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