An unprecedented study has revealed that the chemicals in everyday products including sunscreen, toothpaste and soap, could be damaging human sperm.
German and Danish researchers looked at 100 chemicals and discovered, shockingly, that almost a third of them affected the way sperm swim. This, if you remember your GCSE biology, is a big problem as they won't reach the egg.
Furthermore, certain chemicals can lead to a release of compounds that if activated at the wrong time, can affect fertilisation. Some can also make the sperm less sensitive to female sex hormones.
Considering that male fertility issues occur in nearly 50% of cases involving couples finding it difficult to conceive, this could mean big things for men improving their chances.
Prof. Niels E. Skakkebaek, leader of the Danish team says: "For the first time we have shown a direct link between exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals from industrial products and adverse effects on human sperm function."
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The Mail Online reported the researchers as writing in the journal EMBO Reports, and identified triclosan - the antibacterial agent used in some soaps and toothpastes - as one of these harmful chemicals.
Researcher Timo Strunker, of the Centre of Advanced European Studies and Research in Bonn, wrote about the dangers of chemicals mixing. He said: "The cocktail, despite the extremely low concentration of its ingredients, evoked large responses in sperm. This has not been shown before."
Elizabeth Salter Green, director of chemical watchdog CHEM Trust, was quoted by the Mail as saying:"The great worry is the ability of these chemicals to undermine fertilisation occurs at levels to which most men are regularly exposed."