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Fertility Week 2017: chemicals in the home may affect male and female fertility

Fertility Week 2017: chemicals in the home may affect male and female fertility





Fertility Week 2017:

chemicals in the home may affect male and female fertility


Chemicals in the home can reduce men and women’s chances of having a baby, according to a review of research released today for Fertility Week 2017.


The research review, authored by Dr Mark Green, Senior Lecturer in Reproductive Biology at the University of Melbourne, was produced by Your Fertility in collaboration with the Fertility Society of Australia's Pre-conception Health Specialist Interest Group for Fertility Week 2017.


Fertility Week 2017, a national public education campaign running between October 15-21, is exploring the way that chemicals, known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), can reduce sperm and egg quality and a person’s chance of having a baby. Some of the most common EDCs include BPA (Bisphenol A), phthalates and parabens.


“Many people are unaware that products they use in daily life contain chemicals called endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that may reduce a couple’s ability to have a baby,” said Dr Green.


Studies show that around 95% of people have EDCs in their bodies and that people who struggle to conceive often have higher levels of some EDCs.  It is also known that there is a negative association between increased levels of some EDCs and the chance of pregnancy among couples who use assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF.


“It is virtually impossible for us, in modern life, to avoid EDCs, but this doesn’t mean we need to panic. What is most important is that we are aware of these chemicals, so that we can make informed decisions regarding what we eat and drink and the products we use in our homes and garden,” said Dr Green.


“By making simple changes in our daily lives we can reduce our expose to EDCs – which is particularly important for people who are thinking about having a baby,” he said.


Some of the easy measures people can take to lower their exposure to EDCs include:

  • washing fruit and vegetables to remove any chemicals that they may have been sprayed with;
  • eating fewer processed and pre-packaged foods - EDCs are present in the material used to coat the inside of cans and in plastic wrapping;
  • limiting the amount of oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines) and fatty meats eaten, to reduce a person’s consumption of chemicals that can accumulate in the fat of some animals;
  • reading the labels on all food products and avoiding those with certain additives, preservatives and anti-bacterial agents;
  • avoiding handling shiny sales receipts – they’re covered in chemicals;
  • drinking water and soft drinks from glass or hard plastic bottles rather than soft plastic bottles. EDC-containing plasticisers are used to make plastic bottles flexible;
  • not heating food in soft plastic ‘takeaway’ containers or those covered with cling wrap or tin foil. When these products are heated or hot food is placed in them, the chemicals in the plastic or foil are absorbed into the food, especially if the food is fatty. Instead, use china or glass, which can be covered with a paper towel or plate. It is also important to keep in mind that plastic advertised as ‘BPA free’ may contain other EDCs such BPS (Bisphenol S), which can be just as harmful;
  • avoiding air fresheners, smoke, strong chemicals, insect sprays, heavily perfumed products, plastic smells and fumes. If you can smell it, it is in high concentration;
  • airing your home frequently to reduce the chance of breathing in chemical particles;
  • replacing strong household cleaning products with ‘green’ alternatives wherever possible. Household products which can have EDCs include detergents, hand sanitisers, cleaning agents, and carpet cleaners; EDCs can also be found in glues, paints, and varnishes;
  • reading the labels on all personal care products such as cosmetics, shampoos, conditioners, hair colourings and body washes and choosing those that are free of EDCs- these can be identified easily by looking for phrases such as ‘paraben free’ on the product;
  • choosing ‘green’ gardening products where possible and avoiding pesticides and herbicides in the garden.


Fertility Week is a program of Your Fertility, a national public education program funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and the Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services.


The research review, entitled “The effects of environmental chemicals on fertility and fecundity – for health professionals”, is designed to assist health professionals understand the impacts of EDCs on reproductive health. A translation of the review has also been produced for the general public by Your Fertility.


Your Fertility is provided by the Fertility Coalition: Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (lead agency), Andrology AustraliaJean Hailes Research Unit and The Robinson Research Institute.


Resources for Fertility Week 2017, including videos, can be found at


To find out more about Fertility Week 2017 and other fertility-related matters visit


For further information and interviews contact:

Thursday & Friday only

Renee de Silva, Health Promotion Coordinator

Mobile: 0401 640 052


From Sunday, October 15

Marjorie Solomon, VARTA PR Officer

Mobile: 0452 515 302