How your workplace influences your fertility | Babies |

How your workplace influences your fertility

We live in a time when occupational safety is very important and safety regulations are becoming ever stricter. This is a positive development - especially in the case of potential dangers that could affect your fertility. What is your job like?

Some jobs have an increased health risk due to their role, for example in the chemical industry. There is a certain potential for danger from the use or production of chemicals here. Some chemicals and also radioactive substances as well as increased heat supply and injuries affect the production of semen.


Chemicals that are harmful to health are now used with great care and the environment in which they are used is tightly controlled. Nevertheless, in some areas, the risk of fertility damage and thus health hazards for the offspring is higher. Scientists from all over the world have found out through studies which areas of activity pose risks.

Forestry and Agriculture:
Plant protection products (herbicides and pesticides) used in agriculture have a damaging effect on fertility - especially when applied to the fields. Pesticides are also suspected to increase the risk of malformations. This sounds frightening at first - but in fact it is very rare for such malformations.

Painters industry
The inhalation of solvents and hydrocarbons dissolved in paints, dyes, thinners and turpentine are associated with health problems in babies.

Mechanics and automotive companies
The uptake of hydrocarbons from diesel and gasoline is suspected to cause premature closure of the growth junctures of the skull and thereby skull malformation. In addition, there is a connection with the development of a hypospadias (urethral opening - located at the bottom of the penis).

Industry / refineries
Organic phosphate pesticide production has been shown to affect male hormone levels. A job in the rubber industry, chemical industry and oil refineries increases the risk of miscarriage.
There are other areas of health risk:

  • Electrical industry
  • Automotive Industry
  • fire Department
  • ceramics industry
  • Metal industry (especially heavy metals like mercury)
If you are not sure whether your workplace is safe, ask your company doctor.


An analysis by COMARE (Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment) suggests that there is a link between the radiation exposure of fathers and the increase in stillbirths and neural tube defects (spina bifida).
An independent study of employees in the nuclear industry at Sellafield in England during the 1950-1989 years shows a link between the exposure of fathers to radioactive material before conception and stillbirth.

Another study from Hanford in the US confirms this. However, the burden on workers in the nuclear industry has been greatly reduced today. At the time of the Sellafield study, the burden was much higher. If you are concerned about your radiation dose at the workplace, ask your doctor and employer for possible solutions.


Heat is another risk factor for male fertility. It affects the morphology (the appearance) of the sperm. If a lot of sperm are affected, it could make it difficult to conceive. However, according to the so-called "strict criteria" of the World Health Organization (WHO), a proportion of up to 85% of malformed sperm is still considered normal.

There's a reason why the testicles are where they are, outside of the "body." The optimal "working temperature" of the sperm is a few degrees below body temperature. Sitting activities therefore also carry a certain risk. Because by sitting for a long time, the testicles can overheat. So also office work and very long car trips can affect the fertility. Do you practice a sedentary job? Then just get up a few times to 'cool down' the testicles and avoid tight clothes, as well as read our article Influence of the lifestyle on the power of procreation.


In a French study, 40 genital injuries were examined. In seven cases, the injury was attributed to an occupational accident. Such injuries can severely disrupt seed production. If you are pursuing a profession in which you are at an increased risk of injury, you must carefully observe the safety regulations and protect yourself accordingly.

What can you do?

The intake of pesticides and pollutants can be minimized by following these instructions: Wear proper protective clothing and shower thoroughly after each exposure.
No matter what job you do, in principle it is always important to adhere to the current safety regulations. If you are uncertain on some points, ask your employer or the security officer.

In case you are working in a field of activity with a high health risk, take extra care and adhere strictly to the safety rules by wearing protective clothing and avoiding all hazards. If you work with chemicals or pesticides, washing your hands before each meal is advised, even if you've worn protective gloves before.

If you are worried about your fertility disability at work, ask your employer if he / she temporarily postpones you.
Your body needs a quarter of a year to optimally prepare for potential procreation. Because a complete sperm generation takes three months to mature. Therefore, it makes sense to make the changes in the professional environment before the actual conception. If you are unsure about having been exposed to harmful substances in the past, it is best to discuss this with your doctor.

Otherwise, an active lifestyle with a healthy diet is the best and most successful way to give birth to a healthy child. Our Nutrition Guide specifically for fathers-to-be includes, among other things, foods that have a beneficial effect on fertility, and we inform you about other factors in life that could affect fertility.


This article was written using the following sources:

Anttila, A. and Sallmen. M. 1995. "Effects of parental occupational exposure to other metals on spontaneous abortion." Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 37 (8). pp 915-21.

Bradley, C.M., Alderman, B.W. and Williams, M.A. et al. 1995. "Parental occupations as risk factors for craniosynostosis in offspring." Epidemiology, 6 (3). pp 306-10.

Brender, J.D. and Suarez, L. 1990. "Paternal occupation and anencephaly." American Journal of Epidemiology, 131 (3). pp 517-21.

Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment
(COMARE). 2004. "Eighth report: Review of pregnancy outcomes following preconceptional exposure to radiation." National Radiological Protection Board
Crown Copyright 2004. "

Cordier, S., Deplan, F., Mandereau, L. et al. 1991. "Paternal exposure to mercury and spontaneous abortions." British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 48 (6). pp 375-81.

De Cock, J., Westveer, K. and Heederik, D. et al. 1994. "Time to pregnancy and occupational exposure to pesticides in fruit growers in the Netherlands." Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 51 (10). pp 693-9.

De Roos, A.J., Olshan, A.F. and Teschke, K. et al. 2001. "Prenatal occupational exposure to chemicals and incidence of neuroblastoma in offspring." American Journal of Epidemiology, 154 (2). pp 106-14.

Garcia, A.M., Fletcher, T., Benavides, F.G. et al. 1999. "Parental agricultural work and selected congenital malformations." American Journal of Epidemiology, 149 (1). pp 64-74.

Gold, E.B., Lasley, B.L., Schenker, M.B. 1994th
Introduction: rational for an update. Reproductive hazards. " Occup Med, 1994 Jul-Sep; 9 (3). pp. 363-72.

Gold, E.B., Lasley, B.L., Schenker, M.B. 1994. "Introduction: rational for an update." Reproductive hazards. " Occup Med. 9. pp. 363: 72nd

Irgens, A., Kruger, K., Skorve, A.H. et al. 2000. "Birth defects and paternal occupational exposure: hypotheses tested in a record linkage based dataset." Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 79 (6). pp 465-70.

Joffe, M., Bisanti, L., Apostoli, P. et al. 2003. "Time to Pregnancy and Occupational Lead Exposure." Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 60 (10). pp 752-8.

Larsen, S.B., Joffe, M., Bonde, J.P. et al. 1998. "Time to pregnancy and exposure to pesticides in Occupational and Environmental Medicine 55 (4). pp 278-83.

Lindbohm, M.L., Hemminki, K., Bonhomme, M.G., et al. 1991. "Effects of paternal occupational exposure on spontaneous abortions." American Journal of Public Health, 81 (8). pp 1029-33.

Padungtod, C., Lasley, B.L., Christiani D.C., et al. 1998. "Reproductive hormone profiles among pesticide factory workers." Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 40 (12). pp 1038-47.

Parker, L., Pearce, M.S., Dickinson, H.O. et al. 1999. "Stillbirths among offspring of male radiation workers at Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant." Lancet, Vol 354, no. 9188, 23 October 1999. "pp 1407-14.

Parker, L., Pearce, M.S., Dickinson, H. et al. 1999. "Stillbirths among offspring of male radiation workers at Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant." Lancet, 354 (9188). pp 1407-14.

Sanjose, S., Roman, E., Beral, V. 1991. "Low birthweight and preterm delivery, Scotland. 1981-84: effect of parents' occupation." Lancet, 338 (8764). pp 428-31.

Schnitzer, P.G., Olshan, A.F. and Erickson, D. 1995. "Paternal occupation and risk of birth defects in offspring." Epidemiology, 6 (6): pp 577-583

Sharpe, C.R., Franco, E.L., de-Camargo, B. et al. 1995. "Parental exposures to pesticides and risk of Wilms' tumor in Brazil." American Journal of Epidemiology, 141 (3). pp 210-17.

Sharpe, R.M. 2000. "Environment, lifestyle and male infertility.
Baillier's Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab, pp. 14489-503.

Thonneau, P., Bujan. L., Multigner, L. and Mieusset R. 1998. "Occupational heat exposure and male fertility: a review." Hum Reprod, 13. pp. 2122-5.

Past Articles

Does anyone have experience with Hellp

Next Article

maternity wear