What if I told you that sperm counts have been declining by more than 50% over the past 40 years? It’s true and scientists think that chemicals in our environment may be part of the cause. Harmful chemicals like BPA and parabens are found in things we use every day, like plastic bottles and makeup. While we are still learning about the effects of these chemicals, we believe that they are negatively impacting both male and female fertility. In science, we call these “Endocrine-disrupting chemicals.”
Endocrine disrupting chemicals are a group of chemicals that are both naturally occurring and synthetically produced. These compounds have the ability to change the actions of hormones in our bodies by disrupting the normal functions of the endocrine system, which controls things like your metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, and mood. As of today, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has identified hundreds of endocrine disrupting chemicals in things most people use every day. (Looking at you sunscreen!)
While most are familiar with the chemical BPA found in many plastics, other less common chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, pesticides and heavy metals are also found in common everyday products and foods. For example, parabens are found in many hair care products and pesticides are in that salad you may be eating. These chemicals have been linked to PCOS , endometriosis, and ovarian dysfunction. While the data is limited, the potential impact for all of us is of life changing.
What can you do to help reduce your exposure to EDCs? First, learn about the products that contain these chemicals through websites such as EWG.org. Next, read the label! Finally, if possible, select an alternative product without these chemicals. While it is not possible to avoid all chemicals, small, simple changes can make a major difference in your overall health. Don’t forgot to follow me on Instagram @dr.barryevan for weekly updates about the chemicals affecting your daily life, and possibly your fertility, and what you can do about it.
Barry Perlman, DO earned his medical degree from Rowan University as the valedictorian of the class of 2014. He graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in Molecular Biology. Dr. Perlman completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Following his time as Chief Resident, Dr. Perlman finished his fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School. He is an attending physician in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Saint Barnabas Medical Center.