Hesperian Health Guides

Dangers at Work or Home That Can Hurt Fertility

These dangers can hurt fertility in many ways—from the making of sperm and eggs to the birth of a healthy baby:

  • Contaminated air, food, or water caused by dangerous pesticides or toxic chemicals used in factories and farms.
a man spraying plants with pesticide and then handing his shirt to a woman washing clothes
Pesticides and other
harmful chemicals can
hurt a man's sperm
while he works...
...and if the woman washes his clothes, the harmful chemicals are passed on to her.
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco, or drinking alcohol or coffee. Women who smoke or chew tobacco, or who drink a lot of alcohol or coffee may take longer to become pregnant or have more miscarriages. Men who smoke or drink a lot of alcohol or coffee make fewer sperm, and these are often damaged or weak.
a man sitting in the driver's seat of a truck
Working in hot places, like sitting near the hot engine of a truck for many hours, can kill sperm and cause a man to be infertile.
  • High temperatures. A man’s sperm need to stay cool. That is why the testicles hang in the scrotum outside a man’s body. When the testicles get too warm they can stop making healthy sperm. For example, this can happen if a man wears tight clothes that press his testicles up inside his body, or if he takes a hot bath, or works near hot things such as boilers, furnaces, or the hot engine of a long-distance truck— especially if he drives for many hours without a break. Once the testicles become cool, they start making healthy sperm again.
  • Medicines. Some medicines can hurt fertility. The best choice is for you and your partner not to use any medicines while you are trying to become pregnant. If you must use medicines because
    of illness, talk to a health worker and tell her
    you are trying to get pregnant.

This page was updated:17 Apr 2019