Male Factor Subfertility Causes – Environment, Lifestyle, Technology and now Ibuprofen?

Unless you’ve been too busy to notice, news about declining sperm count in our Western countries is very much prevalent in today's press and if you’ve had cause to search online recently for information about male fertility factors, you can’t have missed the myriad of articles relating to the male fertility crisis that is looming worldwide?!

Unfortunately, it’s true. We know that male sperm count has been in decline since the 1970s and that causes relating to this decrease and degradation in the quality of semen are lifestyle factors; such as increased stress levels, exposure to environmental factors including modern day pesticides and chemicals, and on top of this – a recent study has discovered that even taking the readily available and well-known pain medication, Ibuprofen, can also now hinder your sperm quality. In short, any factor that has the ability to lower your testosterone levels can cause reduced sperm count and lead to male infertility.

Your Local Environment

Depending on where you live and the pollutants that surround you, you could be literally be breathing in toxic chemicals. These in turn, increase the free radicals in your system leading to lower sperm production and an increase in abnormal sperm shape. You can’t easily up and move house or change jobs but it’s a great excuse for that weekend away to the countryside.


Habitually drinking too much alcohol or binge drinking can cause impotence, reduce your libido and affect the quality of your sperm. We’re not saying that you have to be ‘tee total’ here, but to improve your sperm production, it’s recommended that you don’t drink in excess of the Department of Health recommended daily unit allowances.


According to a recently published study, prolonged use of the over-the-counter pain killer, Ibuprofen, can lead to a decrease in the testes’ ability to produce testosterone. This study suggests that men who take Ibuprofen continually over a long period of time will suffer from disrupted production of the male sex hormone which the pituitary gland then needs to counter. This can lead to a condition known as “compensated hypogonadism”, which causes erectile dysfunction and fertility issues. Taking these anti-inflammatories occasionally won’t cause any harm but it’s worth bearing in mind the next time you reach into your medicine cabinet.


We live by our mobile phones these days but the electromagnetic radiation and heat caused by these devices could literally be cooking your sperm if you keep your phone in a trouser pocket. The same can be said of laptops, particularly if you actually sit with it on your lap on a train, on the sofa and even in bed. The residual heat produced by a laptop provides unfavourable conditions for your testicles. Move all devices a safe distance away from your crown jewels when working or when storing them. Sit at a desk when using your laptop (not least for correct posture and alignment) and do be sure to finish any work before you go to bed. Leave the tech downstairs because you need to get adequate sleep.

Rest and Relaxation

If you’ve ever been guilty of burning the proverbial candle at both ends, the chances are that your sperm production will have suffered. As much as our mental ability to concentrate and our body’s ability to regenerate and repair is affected by any lack of rest, respite and sleep, the same goes for your reproductive organs. Try to get at least 7-8 hours of good sleep every night and if time allows at weekends, indulge yourself with a short nap.

Keeping it roomy

Most men have a personal preference for their favourite style of underwear, but it has long been known that tight underwear has an adverse effect on your fertility. So whilst you might be feeling comfortable in your CK’s, too tight a fit can not only restrict blood flow but may also cause your testicles to overheat.


Any mild to moderate psychological stress at work or socially can affect your health in many ways. If you’re experiencing any work strains or personal anxieties, this can also cause a decrease in your testosterone levels and reproductive abilities by affecting the way your sperm develops. Any abnormalities that subsequently occur to your sperm can cause lack of motility and therefore the ability to fertilise an egg. Looking after yourself by eating a healthy balanced diet, decreasing your alcohol consumption and getting plenty of sleep and moderate exercise, are all established methods of maintaining your health and general wellbeing.

Hot baths, Saunas & Hot Tubs

Whilst great for relaxing and unwinding after a long day, if you’re trying for a baby, beware of the heat! Your testicles and sperm are overly sensitive to too much heat. If the temperature is too high, it can kill your sperm and affect your body’s ability to produce good quality sperm in future. Refrain from the routine of visiting the sauna after your regular work out.


Being overweight can not only affect your overall physical health and confidence, it can also lead to a lower libido in the bedroom as a higher BMI is linked to decreased testosterone levels and erectile dysfunction. Opt for a nutritious balanced diet and not only will you feel better in yourself and notice the physical changes, but your reproductive health will benefit too.


Eating a healthy balanced diet enables your body to function at its optimum ability and eating the right foods can also help to boost your fertility. Semen quality can be improved with a dietary or supplemental intake of zinc, folate, beta carotene, folic acid, selenium and the two most important vitamins required by men – Vitamin C and Vitamin E.

Talk to an Expert

If you have been trying for over a year to have a baby and are concerned about your own fertility, you can now request a 1:1 consultation with a fertility expert online to review your full clinical history and assess your reproductive health. They can request appropriate investigations into the cause to provide you with a diagnosis and advice on what to do next. The earlier you seek answers, the sooner you will find solutions.


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