Approximately two million women in this country will experience problems conceiving a child. This can be a frustrating problem for many couples who are happily married and have the sincere desire to add a child to their home. While there are a variety of reasons for female infertility, a disturbing new study shows that common chemicals in the environment and in household products may significantly affect fertility in women who long to give birth to a child of their own.
A study published in the journal Human Reproduction shows that exposure to a common group of chemicals known as perfluorinated chemicals or PFCs can make it more difficult for a woman to conceive. Even more disturbing is the fact that these chemicals are found in commonly used household itemss and even food and cosmetic products that women are exposed to on a daily basis.
How did PFCs affect women in this study? The researchers were able to measure blood levels of PFCs in women and compare them to the time period it took for the women to become pregnant. Infertility is considered to exist if it takes longer than a year to conceive. When the women with the lowest levels of PFCs were compared to those with the highest levels, it was found that those with the highest blood levels of these chemicals were significantly more likely to take longer than a year to conceive, suggesting that PFCs might cause female infertility.
The manufacturers who use these chemicals in their products emphasize that there’s no proof that these chemicals actually affect fertility, just that there’s an association. Despite this, the EPA has chosen to take action against companies who use these chemicals in their products. Their goal is to require these companies to eliminate PFCs completely from products by 2015.
Is there proof that PFCs can adversely affect fertility or cause other health problems? The EPA website points out that PFCs have been shown to cause developmental disorders as well as other health problems in animals. They emphasize that most women have a certain level of these chemicals in their bloodstream when tested. It’s unclear whether their health effects extend beyond affecting female infertility to serious health conditions such as cancer. More research is needed to further clarify the potential health risks.
Although PFCs are just one of many factors that can affect infertility in females, this study raises concerns about the role environmental pollutants and toxins play in compromising fertility as well as impacting fetal development. Even more disturbing is the fact that these chemicals occur in products that women are exposed to on a daily basis.
Thankfully, the EPA seems to be taking a proactive stand on this issue.