An integrated approach to the analysis of environmental factors that influence male reproductive health
Adams, Jessica Alice
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
At least 30 million men are infertile around the world, identifying male factor infertility as a global health issue. In the past 70 years, evidence of a significant general decline in sperm quality has been reported, prompting concerns about the implications for reproductive health. Over the same period, there have been substantial changes in human lifestyles. New technologies, such as mobile phones and wi-fi, have been proposed to have a negative impact on a range of health outcomes, from an increased risk of cancer to a decrease in fertility. However, these links remain controversial. Over the last 30 years, the introduction of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) has offered infertile patients, particularly men with severe male factor infertility, a successful treatment option. However, miscarriage rates associated with fertility treatment can be as high as 30% and how this risk had changed over time was unclear. In addition, there are natural fluctuations in human health, including seasonal changes to birth rates. However, the clinical implications of these fluctuations need to be established. In this thesis, using an integrated approach that combined epidemiological research with laboratory investigations, I show that sperm quality is negatively affected by exposure to RF-EMR from mobile phones and wi-fi. I also identified a seasonal summer increase in sperm motility and morphology that followed patterns of seasonality in birth rates and in the success of assisted conception cycles. I showed that although the number of successful conceptions from ART has increased over time, there has been an equal increase in miscarriage rates. Male reproductive health continues to be under-researched when compared with the female, this inequality needs to be addressed in order to understand the causes of the decline in male fertility and the relationship this has with subsequent reproductive success.
ADAMS, J. A., GALLOWAY, T. S., MONDAL, D., ESTEVES, S. C. & MATHEWS, F. 2014. Effect of mobile telephones on sperm quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Environ Int, 70c, 106-112.
PhD in Biological Sciences