I've run across several claims about oral contraceptives ("the pill") and how the residuals that enter municipal water supplies via urination cannot be filtered out and may have detrimental effects on animal and human health. One particular claim is that the ingestion of these trace amounts of chemical in drinking water may contribute to male infertility:

If synthetic estrogen can affect the "maleness" of fish, it such a stretch to think that the rise in male infertility might be caused by the Pill? That synthetic estrogen in our water supply is making human males less male? That a pill that takes a normal female cycle and turns it upside down would also affect male fertility in unexpected ways? Why is that NOT one of the many possible reasons cited by this article?

I wonder how infertile men everywhere would feel if they found out that it was synthetic estrogen in their water supply that might be the cause of their problems. I wonder if that is why scientists and others are dumbfounded by the utter silence on this issue. Could it be that the Pill is, like abortion, a sacred cow that no matter the devastation it wreaks, we would not dare speak a word against it? (SOURCE)

Has the excretion of residual amounts of oral contraceptive compounds into public water supplies and subsequent ingestion by males led to an increase in male infertility?

  • 1
    First you need to ask whether there is an increase in male infertility. However plausible the hypothesis of oestrogen's in the water, the claimed affect requires a real observation of decreasing fertility. See skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/7160/…
    – matt_black
    Commented Dec 27, 2011 at 23:19
  • @matt_black: very good point. Another route, which could bypass this would simply be to ask 1) if oral contraceptive compounds would produce male infertility at some dosage, and 2) if the levels are high enough in drinking water to cross that dosage threshold effect. A "No" to question #1 would also answer this question.
    – Hendy
    Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 1:04
  • Might help in creating an answer, but even if not, the fish aspect seems interesting to me on its own: bluelivingideas.com/2010/04/12/…
    – Suma
    Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 8:55
  • Is there any evidence this is from excreted compounds as opposed to those pills flushed down the toilet with out actually being consumed?
    – Chad
    Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 14:49
  • @chad: great point... I may revise this. I guess the quote I provided doesn't actually specify how the estrogen is getting into the water (dissolved whole pills, or residual excreted amounts)...
    – Hendy
    Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 21:56


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