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  • Writer's pictureRani

How Endocrine-Disrupting Compounds Affect Female Fertility

Updated: May 31

The journey of balancing your hormones and achieving fertility is filled with unexpected challenges. As someone who's also navigated the ups and downs of hormonal imbalances, I understand how everything matters—from what you eat to what you use and bring into your home. One major factor that can impact your fertility and hormones is endocrine-disrupting compounds, or EDCs.

What Are Endocrine Disruptors?

Imagine your body's hormone system as a delicate orchestra, each hormone playing its part to keep things in harmony. Endocrine disruptors are like those musicians who show up late, play out of tune, or even take over someone else's part. These chemicals can interfere with the normal functioning of your hormones, leading to all sorts of chaos.

You might be surprised to discover where these disruptors lurk: in the plastic bottles you drink from, your favourite cosmetics, and even the cleaning products under your sink (1). They're more common than we like to think, and they can significantly impact your reproductive health.

How Do EDCs Affect Fertility?

EDCs can mimic hormones, block their production, and make it difficult for your body to use the hormones it produces (2). Here’s a closer look at how they can affect your fertility:

  1. Hormonal Confusion: EDCs can trick your body into thinking it has more or less of a hormone than it actually does (3). This can mess with your menstrual cycle, making ovulation irregular and conception harder to achieve.

  2. Increased Risk of Miscarriage: These chemicals are linked to a higher risk of miscarriage and implantation failure, meaning they can make it more difficult for a fertilized egg to attach to your uterus (4).

  3. Development of ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and PCOS: These conditions can delay or compromise normal ovulation (5).

  4. Impact on Egg Quality: Exposure to EDCs can lower the quality of both sperm and eggs (6). For women, this means fewer viable eggs, making conception even more challenging.

  5. Developmental Disorders: If you're exposed to these chemicals during pregnancy, they can affect your baby’s development, potentially leading to lifelong health issues (7).

  6. Thyroid Function: EDCs can disrupt your thyroid hormones, which are crucial for ovarian function and egg maturation. This can further complicate your fertility journey.

Exposure to EDCs can accumulate quickly, especially since the average woman uses at least 12 personal products daily.

It can seem overwhelming to realize just how many endocrine-disrupting chemicals are present in everyday items. Instead of feeling fearful, I want you to feel empowered. Let’s focus on taking small steps that lead to significant benefits.

Small Steps to Reduce Exposure

It might feel overwhelming to think about how pervasive these chemicals are, but small changes can make a big difference. Here are a few steps you can take to reduce your exposure:

  • Switch to Glass or Stainless Steel: Use glass or stainless steel containers instead of plastic ones, especially for food and drinks.

  • Choose Clean Cosmetics: Look for beauty products free from parabens and phthalates.

  • Read Labels on Cleaning Products: Opt for natural cleaning products or make your own using simple ingredients like vinegar and baking soda.

Empower Yourself with Knowledge

Understanding the impact of endocrine disruptors is a powerful step towards taking control of your fertility. You don't have to eliminate all exposure, but making informed choices can reduce the risk and give your body a better chance to balance its hormones naturally.

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  1. Encarnação T, Pais AA, Campos MG, Burrows HD. Endocrine disrupting chemicals: Impact on human health, wildlife and the environment. Sci Prog. 2019. 102(1). 3-42.

  2. Rattan S, Zhou C, Chiang C, Mahalingam S, Brehm E, Flaws JA. Exposure to endocrine disruptors during adulthood: consequences for female fertility. J Endocrinol. 2017. 233(3). R109-R129.

  3. Vessa B, Perlman B, McGovern PG, Morelli SS. Endocrine disruptors and female fertility: a review of pesticide and plasticizer effects. F S Rep. 2022. 3(2). 86-90.

  4. Periklis Panagopoulos, Despina Mavrogianni, Chryssi Christodoulaki, Eirini Drakaki, Georgios Chrelias, Dimitrios Panagiotopoulos, Anastasios Potiris, Peter Drakakis, Sofoklis Stavros. Effects of endocrine disrupting compounds on female fertility. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology. 2023. 88.

  5. Interdonato L, Siracusa R, Fusco R, Cuzzocrea S, Di Paola R. Endocrine Disruptor Compounds in Environment: Focus on Women's Reproductive Health and Endometriosis. Int J Mol Sci. 2023. 24(6). 5682.

  6. Costa EM, Spritzer PM, Hohl A, Bachega TA. Effects of endocrine disruptors in the development of the female reproductive tract. Arq Bras Endocrinol Metabol. 2014. 58(2). 153-61.

  7. Liu Q. Effects of Environmental Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals on Female Reproductive Health. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2021. 1300. 205-229.

  8. Yilmaz, B., Terekeci, H., Sandal, S. et al. Endocrine disrupting chemicals: exposure, effects on human health, mechanism of action, models for testing and strategies for prevention. Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2020. 21. 127–147.



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