DES seems to have a negative effect on sperm count when administered at high dose during the first semester of pregnancy
2006 Study Abstract
Reports of an increase in male reproductive disorders in several countries led to the hypothesis that estrogens during fetal life may cause reduced sperm counts, cryptorchidism, hypospadias and testicular cancer.
So far the hypothesis is based on animal studies and reports from the wild life. We systematically searched the epidemiological literature for evidence linking indicators of prenatal serum levels of maternal estrogens with sperm density, hypospadias, cryptorchidism and testicular cancer in humans.
Indicators of fetal estrogen exposure included direct measurements, recorded intake of hormones (diethylstilbestrol (DES), oral contraceptives (OCs) and estrogens), pregnancy conditions with known deviant estrogen level as for instance twin pregnancies and some environmental exposures. Among 425 papers we reviewed 81 publications with appropriate information.
DES was associated with an increased incidence of reproductive tract abnormalities in their male and female offspring. Specifically, several studies have reported alterations in sperm quality and higher incidence of genital malformations, cryptorchidism, and testicular cancer than in untreated populations. DES seems to have a negative effect on sperm count when administered at high dose during the first semester of pregnancy.
Similarly, experimental studies support the estrogen hypothesis, in utero, rodents exposed to DES during development have abnormal testicular histology and altered adult male fertility.
Sources and more information
- Male reproductive disorders in humans and prenatal indicators of estrogen exposure. A review of published epidemiological studies, Reproductive toxicology (Elmsford, N.Y.)., NCBI PubMed PMID: 16005180, 2006 Jan.
- Male factor infertility featured image credit nycivf.