Phthalate Exposure May Affect Levels of Sexual Interest in Premenopausal Women

Plastic bottles contain chemicals harmful to women.October 21 , 2014
by: ASRM Office of Public Affairs
Published in ASRM Press Release

Honolulu, Hawaii – It is known that exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals can interfere with sexual function in men; in a study discussed at the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, researchers present evidence that environmental exposure to phthalates might cause lower levels of interest in sexual activity in premenopausal women.

Pregnant women recruited from four American cities for The Study for Future Families (SFF) were tested for phthalate metabolite concentrations in their urine.  The women also completed questionnaires asking about sexual problems they may have experienced in the months leading to conception.  Adjusting for the women’s ages, number of children, education, race, stress, and anti-depressant use, the researchers examined two measures of sexual dysfunction- vaginal dryness and lack of interest- in relation to levels of phthalate metabolites.

They found that women who tested in the top 25% of exposure to phthalates were about 2.5 times more likely to report a lack of sexual interest.  Reports of vaginal dryness were not associated with any particular level of urinary phthalate concentration.

ASRM President Rebecca Z. Sokol, MD, MPH, commented, “Exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals is difficult to avoid in our society.  As we learn more about the effects they have on human health and reproduction, we are realizing that we need to find ways to protect ourselves from them and find alternatives to their use.”

P-321 ES Barrett et al, “Environmental Phthalate Exposure Is Associated with Low Interest in Sexual Activity in Premenopausal Women”

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, founded in 1944, is an organization of more than 7,000 physicians, researchers, nurses, technicians and other professionals dedicated to advancing knowledge and expertise in reproductive biology.  Affiliated societies include the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, the Society of Reproductive Surgeons and the Society of Reproductive Biologists and Technologists.