Infertility and the Environment: The Medical Context

Approximately 10 to 15% of the population experiences infertility. Although 85 to 90% of couples or individuals who experience infertility have a diagnosis for their infertility, underlying causes of infertility rarely are found. Extensive literature reporting adverse effects of environmental contaminants on wildlife and laboratory animal reproductive tract development, and reproductive function and epidemiologic studies with humans, suggests that many environmental chemicals and heavy metals may contribute to infertility. This article introduces the medical context in which infertility patients are evaluated and lays the foundation for health care professional and patient conversations, and medical education regarding environmental contaminants and human reproductive health for the future.