Environmental and Occupational Factors Affecting Female Fertility
The ability to conceive may be affected by exposure to various toxins or chemicals in the workplace or the surrounding environment. Substances that can cause mutations, birth defects, abortions, infertility or sterility are called reproductive toxins.
Disorders of infertility, reproduction, spontaneous abortion, and teratogenesis (the process by which congenital malformations are produced in an embryo or fetus) are among the top ten work-related diseases and injuries in the U.S. today. Despite the fact that considerable controversy exists regarding the impacts of toxins on fertility, four chemicals are now being regulated based on their documented infringements on conception.
Exposure to lead sources has been proven to negatively impact fertility in humans. Lead can produce teratospermias (abnormal sperm) and is thought to be an abortifacient, or substance that causes artificial abortion.
2. Medical Treatments and Materials
Repeated exposure to radiation, ranging from simple x-rays to chemotherapy, has been shown to alter sperm production, as well as contribute to a wide array of ovarian problems.
3. Ethylene Oxide
A chemical used both in the sterilization of surgical instruments and in the manufacturing of certain pesticides, ethylene oxide may cause birth defects in early pregnancy and has the potential to provoke early miscarriage.
4. Dibromochloropropane (DBCP)
Handling the chemicals found in pesticides, such as DBCP, can cause ovarian problems, leading to a variety of health conditions, like early menopause, that may directly impact fertility.
Much of this information is from the stanford.edu website.