Parabens linked to decrease in male fertility

male fertility and parabens

After the recent revelation that sperm quality is dropping at an alarming rate, recent research reveals part of the problem could be linked to parabens. These common chemicals are found in numerous cosmetics and cleaning solutions and have been found to have a potentially significant impact on male fertility.

How parabens affect semen quality

The Polish study analysed lab tests taken from 315 male fertility patients. The goal was to assess why they might be experiencing issues with reproduction. Samples of blood, semen, saliva and urine were tested from all the participants.

The findings were surprising, showing male patients who had an increased level of parabens found in their urine, had a much larger number of sperm with abnormal morphology. This means the sperm has an unusual shape or size and it is known to cause problems with fertility.

The increased level of parabens discovered in the urine, were also shown to cause DNA damage within the sperm. This affects the mobility of the sperm, making it more difficult for it to reach the egg.

This isn’t the only study to link parabens with infertility. Previous research has revealed that mice who were exposed to parabens, were unable to reproduce. Another study carried out by the University of California, also discovered parabens can damage the sex cells in both men and women, which are responsible for creating a baby.

Parabens also have a negative effect on female fertility, affecting the oestrogen hormone. The worrying thing is, they can be found in a huge range of common household and cosmetic products. Even the toothpaste and mouthwash you use could be laden with parabens.

Can parabens be completely avoided?

It would prove extremely difficult to avoid being exposed to parabens altogether. They’re found in a significant range of products. It is also worth noting that small to moderate levels may not affect male fertility; it is when you are exposed to excessive amounts that they can become a severe problem.

Patients can try to minimise their exposure by reading the labels of any cosmetics and household cleaning products they buy. There are some products which clearly state they do not contain parabens, however they can be quite difficult to find. They can also be listed under numerous names, most of which the average consumer has never heard of.
Those looking to minimise their exposure should look out for ingredients such as methylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben. As you can see, ‘paraben’ is typically included at the end of the word, making it a little easier to spot. Out of the three ingredients listed, butylparaben has been especially linked to a higher percentage of sperm abnormalities.

Due to their known negative effects, some parabens are banned from being added to products within the European Union. However, this doesn’t mean remaining legal parabens are safe.

Overall, the recent study does deliver some worrying results. However, due to its small size and its inability to look into other factors which may influence sperm quality, it doesn’t produce a 100% accurate picture of the true risks parabens present.