Forever chemicals may reduce fertility in women by 40%, warns study

These common chemicals can be found in everything from drinking water to cleaning products.
Mrigakshi Dixit
Representational image
Pregnant woman staring out a window

Natalia Kuzina/iStock  

A new study has raised concerns about the health of women. According to the study, women who are exposed to chemicals commonly found in some drinking water or everyday household products may have lower fertility.

PFAS can be found in a variety of everyday products. These chemicals are also popularly known as ‘forever chemicals.’

These chemicals are commonly used because they are resistant to water and grease and act as a useful barrier. PFAS are used in drinking water as well as nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing, food packaging, stain-resistant coatings on carpets, paints, and even personal care items.  

This research is led by scientists from Mount Sinai in New York. 

Women show a 40 percent decline in fertility  

The study was conducted on women in Singapore who were trying to conceive.

It involved 1,032 women of childbearing age (18 to 45 years) who were attempting to conceive between 2015 and 2017. They were participants in the Singapore Long-Term Material and Child Outcomes Preconception Study (S-PRESTO). The team measured PFAS in plasma collected from these women and found higher exposure to the chemicals. 

The results found higher blood concentrations of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were linked to a lower likelihood of pregnancy and live birth. PFAS exposure reduced fertility by about 30-40 percent on average.

“PFAS can disrupt our reproductive hormones and have been linked with delayed puberty onset and increased risks for endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome in few previous studies. What our study adds is that PFAS may also decrease fertility in women who are generally healthy and are naturally trying to conceive,” said senior author Damaskini Valvi in a press release. 

Previous research has found that nearly every American has traces of PFAS in their blood. Furthermore, other studies have shown that PFAS can impair reproductive function in female mice.

The authors emphasize the importance of raising awareness about the harmful effects of PFAS among women planning pregnancy. Simultaneously, necessary precautions must be taken to reduce the use of products that contain these chemicals.

“It is also important to advocate for policies that ban the use of toxic chemicals, such as PFAS, from everyday products,” highlights Dr. Valvi.  

This research was published in Science of the Total Environment.

Study abstract:

Experimental models have demonstrated a link between exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and decreased fertility and fecundability; however, human studies are scarce. We assessed the associations between preconception plasma PFAS concentrations and fertility outcomes in women.

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