How Phthalates Affect Your Sex Life (& How to Avoid Them)

“Not tonight, honey, I’ve had too many toxins!”

I’m betting that when you consider the factors affecting your interest in sex you probably don’t consider toxic exposures. But new research presented at the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) found that exposure to the petrochemical-derived compounds known as phthalates can play a significant role in affecting a woman’s sexual desire.

Phthalates (pronounced “thallets”) are found in plastics, pharmaceutical drugs, cosmetics, insecticides, and even baby care products, and have been linked to asthma, birth defects, and cancer. Some medications are coated in a type of phthalate known as di-n-butyl-phthalate. I consider it one of the “dirty dozen toxins” found in most skincare products.

Known as “the Study for Future Families (SFF),” scientists recruited pregnant women from four American cities to participate. The women completed questionnaires to identify sexual interest and sexual problems as well as having their urine examined for evidence of phthalate exposures. After adjusting for age, number of children, education, race, stress, and antidepressant use, the researchers found that women who had the top 25% of exposure to phthalates were 2.5 times more likely to report a lack of sexual interest.

Says ASRM President Dr. Rebecca Sokol, MD, MPH, “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.”

In a study published in the journal Environmental Research, scientists found that prenatal phthalate exposure had a negative impact on the reproductive function of men, including reduced semen volume. Additional research in the European Union estimated that phthalate-caused male infertility results in 618,000 extra medical fertility interventions per year at a cost of €4.71 billion annually ($5.06 billion US dollars based on today’s exchange rate).

Obviously, based on the American Study for Reproductive Medicine study showing phthalates affected sexual interest in women, men are not the only ones impacted by phthalates. In another animal study published in the medical journal Reproductive Toxicology scientists found that even short-term exposure to di-n-butyl phthalate significantly disrupted ovarian functions in female animals.

How to Reduce Your Phthalate Exposure:

  • Choose wooden windows and doors over vinyl ones;
  • Avoid products that have the #3 recycling symbol on the packaging, since they contain PVC;
  • Exclusively select toys that have pledged to stop using PVC, such as: Early Start, Lego, and Little Tikes.
  • Select glass containers for food storage; and
  • Read the ingredients labels on the cosmetics, perfumes, colognes, soap, hair products, skincare products, and deodorants you purchase. Avoid products that contain: phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance. If there is no ingredients list, avoid the product altogether.

Image credit: snailsareslimy via Flickr

136 comments

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla3 years ago

Good to know

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jordan G.
Jordan G3 years ago

Useful and appreciated.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the useful information.

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JOSE HONRADO
JOSE Honr3 years ago

Thanks for the info.

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Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago

Thanks for the post.

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federico bortoletto

Grazie.

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Vicky P.
Vicky P3 years ago

thanks

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ERIKA SOMLAI
ERIKA S3 years ago

noted

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Adrienne L.
Adrienne L3 years ago

Thanks

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