Endocrine-disrupting compounds – female reproductive disorders and developmental timing

Holy Hormones Journal: Study was published in 2008 – and here are we are eight years later and the problem is more immense that imagined. Some of you may not understand the study in its face-1415867_640entirety – but the information is valuable. In a nutshell – the chemicals in our man made environment have invaded our bodies and are being stored and passed in utero. Close to 200 chemicals, heavy metals, BPA, radiation and other toxins including synthetic hormones have been found in the umbilical cord. These toxix compounds are affecting our neurological and physical health. Autism stands at 1 in 46 kids and chronic illness affects more than half the population.

“… there is an urgent need to reduce the incidence of these reproductive disorders, which can be addressed
by correlative studies on early life exposure and adult reproductive dysfunction together with tools to assess the specific exposures and methods to block their effects.”

Ditch the plastic… household cleaners, sunscreen shampoos, especially laundry dryer sheets… and perfumes… even makeup. Scientists have found over 180 chemicals to date that are known endocrine disruptors. These chemicals affect the hormone messages that are relayed to the reproductive system as well as to other organs in the body. The endocrine system is the balancing act that holds the internal and external rhythms intact. When that  is affected – the harmonic hormone symphony breaks down. Period.

What is fascinating is the importance of timing… of course, I have been writing about this for years – with understanding our hormones and behaviors. But Dr. Andrew Wakefield made me aware of timing of exposure and fetal development when he discussed the timing of DES exposure and the corresponding limb deformities. I had never put this together before. Dr. Wakefield addressed this at the AutismOne conference a few years back. In the following year, FOIA obtained documents verified by the CDC whistleblower, Dr. William Thompson showed that African- American boys who received the MMR vaccine at 36 months had higher rates of autism.  And now we are looking at the timing of  endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and its affect on the reproductive system.

Gardasil is a known EDC – and is had a severe impact on thousands of women’s health. This is one area where I have been very vocal and that is the timing of vaccination and menstruation. Why would anyone even consider getting this drug or any other drug – or even surgery for that matter during the paramenstrum when immunity is at its lowest. This is our wake up call. How many of the injured girls were vaccinated either during the premenstrual or menstrual phase.

So whether we have PCOS or any other reproductive health issues – it all comes down to timing of exposure. The root cause is endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Timing is everything… and we are running out of time to correct this immense environmental onslaught.

Female reproductive disorders: the roles of endocrine-disrupting compounds and developmental timing

NIh Pub Med
Fertil Steril. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2014 Jul 8.
Published in final edited form as:




To evaluate the possible role of endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) on female reproductive disorders emphasizing developmental plasticity and the complexity of endocrine-dependent ontogeny of reproductive organs. Declining conception rates and the high incidence of female reproductive disruptions warrant evaluation of the impact of EDCs on female reproductive health.


Publications related to the contribution of EDCs to disorders of the ovary (aneuploidy, polycystic ovary syndrome, and altered cyclicity), uterus (endometriosis, uterine fibroids, fetal growth restriction, and pregnancy loss), breast (breast cancer, reduced duration of lactation), and pubertal timing were identified, reviewed, and summarized at a workshop.


The data reviewed illustrate that EDCs contribute to numerous human female reproductive disorders and emphasize the sensitivity of early life-stage exposures. Many research gaps are identified that limit full understanding of the contribution of EDCs to female reproductive problems. Moreover, there is an urgent need to reduce the incidence of these reproductive disorders, which can be addressed by correlative studies on early life exposure and adult reproductive dysfunction together with tools to assess the specific exposures and methods to block their effects. This review of the EDC literature as it relates to female health provides an important platform on which women’s health can be improved.

Keywords: Epigenetic, reproduction, endocrine disruption, aneuploidy, PCOS, cyclicity, endometriosis, leiomyoma, breast cancer, lactation, puberty

Global trends in overall reproductive health are difficult to ascertain, but numerous studies suggest that many indices of female reproduction have declined over the past half century. Some of this decline is attributable to cultural change (e.g., delayed childbearing, increased contraception in women), but environmental exposures to the fetus, mother, or father may also contribute. It is crucial to periodically evaluate the known or expected effects of environmental factors onthe reproductive capacity of humans, and a call for clarity in this area has been made (1).

The association between male reproductive outcomes and environmental exposures has been evaluated previously (2) and has stimulated research, promoted public and governmental attention, and informed clinical practice for more than a decade. However, a similar comprehensive evaluation encompassing clinical trends and studies, laboratory animal studies, and comparative biology data collected from wildlife has not been conducted in females. Exposure to environmental chemicals recently has been proposed to contribute to several gynecologic pathologies, especially when exposures occur during critical periods of development (3). Practitioners of women’s health are aware of the potential for environmental factors to affect reproductive health, and obstetricians and gynecologists are being urged to increase communication with their patients about the potentially detrimental effects of environmental toxicants on reproductive health (4, 5). A comprehensive evaluation of environmental factors and women’s reproductive health is important to facilitate a more informed discussion between clinicians and their patients, to inform larger discussions among the public and government, and to further research in this area by generating hypotheses, identifying research gaps, developing research agendas, and facilitating the translation of animal and basic science studies to human research.

There are limited data on the prevalence of conditions that affect women’s reproductive health. An analysis of female reproductive outcomes reveals that conception rates have declined in both Danish (6) and US women, in whom a 44% decline since 1960 has been reported (7). In addition, hormone-related diseases such as disorders of pubertal development, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and uterine fibroids are common, although few data on global or population-based trends are available. The combination of reduced conception rates and common occurrences of female reproductive organ diseases raises concern that environmental factors may be having a negative impact on female reproductive health.

The ability of synthetic chemicals to alter reproductive function and health in females has been demonstrated clearly by the consequences of diethylstilbestrol (DES) use by pregnant women. Diethylstilbestrol is an estrogenic compound that was manufactured first in 1938 and was prescribed to prevent miscarriages in women until 1971. The daughters of women given treatment with DES were shown to have rare cervicovaginal cancers (8, 9). Since the initial 1971 publication linking treatment of women with DES and genital tract cancers in offspring, other abnormalities have been observed as the daughters have aged, including decreased fertility and increased rates of ectopic pregnancy (10), increased breast cancer (11), and early menopause (12). Many of these disorders have been replicated in laboratory animals treated developmentally with DES. The lessons learned from 40 years of DES research are that the female fetus is susceptible to environmentally induced reproductive abnormalities, that gonadal organogenesis is sensitive to synthetic hormones during a critical fetal exposure window, that reproductive diseases may not appear until decades after exposures, and that many female reproductive disorders may co-occur.

Other synthetic chemicals used in commerce are known to mimic hormones and have been shown previously to contribute to disease onset (1315). These chemicals are called endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs). Endocrine-disrupting compounds are either natural or synthetic exogenous compounds that interfere with the physiology of normal endocrine-regulated events such as reproduction and growth (16). Although there are many hormonal pathways through which EDCs can act (e.g., agonists or antagonists of steroidal and thyroid hormones) (17), many of the reported EDC effects in wildlife and humans are caused through alteration of estrogen (E) signaling. This is because E signaling is evolutionarily conserved among animals and is crucial for proper ontogeny and function of multiple female reproductive organs (18).

The purpose of this article is to establish the state of the science linking EDC exposures to female reproductive health outcomes. After introducing several topics crucial to understanding the etiology of female reproductive disorders, we present an overview of ovarian, uterine, and breast development, as well as how exposure to EDCs may contribute to some of the most prevalent reproductive disorders in these organs and to pubertal timing. Emphasis is placed on the period of development that currently is known to be most susceptible to disruption and harm by exposure to EDCs. To conclude, we present both specific research needs and several general initiatives needed to improve women’s reproductive health.





Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.