What Are Endocrine Disruptors? 

Many people who visit the Melbourne Viera Fertility Clinic for infertility services have never heard of endocrine disruptors. But, these chemicals, which block or mimic endocrine actions, are a known cause of female infertility. The most common exposure to these endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) comes from pesticides.

Harmful Effects of Endocrine Disruptors

More research on humans is needed to fully understand the risks associated with EDC exposure; however, studies confirm many pesticides impair female reproduction processes. EDCs negatively affect the uterus, ovaries, pituitary gland, and hypothalamus, leading to infertility and early onset menopause.

Other risks associated with endocrine disruptors include:

  • Developmental defects,
  • Elevated cancer risk, and
  • Immune and nervous system dysfunction.

How Do Endocrine Disruptors Work?

Some EDCs imitate natural hormones, triggering the body to overreact to certain stimuli. When this happens, the body may overproduce hormones or release hormones, such as insulin, when they are not needed. Endocrine disruptors may cause over- or under -or active thyroid activities, and delay growth by suppressing growth hormone.

While birth control pills produce similar effects, EDC exposure is not controllable, and may permanently alter a woman’s reproductive system.

Endocrine Disruptors & Infertility

Endocrine disruptors do not only affect hormone concentration and release. Heavy metals and chemical disruptors have negative effects on many glands and organs.

Couples who go to a fertility clinic for assisted reproduction services may have concerns about pesticide exposure. Female fertility tests may look for indications that the egg production cycle and fertilization processes are not working normally. Dioxins (and dioxin-like substances) can cause poor sperm vitality, low testosterone, low sperm counts, and limited sperm mobility. Male fertility test results will help your doctor determine the best fertility treatments for you and your partner.

Lab tests can confirm or rule out chemical exposure side effects like the ones below that may interfere with achieving a viable pregnancy.

  • Uterus: Heavy metals in the uterus may cause fibroid tumors.
  • Ovaries: Heavy metals may decrease mature oocytes and oocyte yield after ovarian stimulation cycles during Melbourne IVF treatment. Decreased sex steroid hormone production is often seen, and live births, as well as confirmed conceptions, often decline.
  • Pituitary Gland: DES (diethylstilbestrol), a synthetic form of estrogen, suppresses the LH and FSH levels.
  • Gonads, Testes, and the Hypothalamus: Chemical-associated reproductive disorders are associated with reduced secretion of FSH and LH hormones, and GnRH cell apoptosis, which is cell death caused by normal and precisely controlled part of a cell’s growth and development cycle.

Treatment Options

We have focused heavily on risks associated with pesticides, but you should know that pesticides are only one source of harmful EDC exposure. The typical home is filled with chemicals that may interfere with fertility and other endocrine system functions. EDCs are found in lotion, hand sanitizers, fire retardant clothes, furniture, non-stick cookware, cash register receipts, and even medical equipment!

Daily exposure to EDCs may lead to long-term increased levels of natural hormones that cause negative health effects, including infertility and other reproductive abnormalities. When test results indicate chemically-induced endocrine system dysfunction, your Viera fertility specialist may recommend a variety of treatment options, including ridding your home of as many harmful chemicals as possible.

There is a growing body of evidence that endocrine disruptors are impacting the ability of couples to conceive around the globe. Thankfully, our fertility specialists can talk to you about treatment plans for assisted reproductive techniques and other solutions for achieving a safe, healthy and viable pregnancy. We can also help you create a plan to limit your exposure in your home, at work, and during leisure activities. If you live in the Melbourne area and have questions about chemical exposure and pregnancy, please contact us to schedule a visit to our Melbourne Viera Fertility Clinic today!