Phthalates and Infertility

What are Phthalates?

Phthalates are a group of man-made chemicals widely used in industrial applications to make plastics more flexible and soft; also called ‘plasticizers’. Common names include:

DEHP- Di-ethylhexyl phthalate – Most common/most toxic: In 1999, 2 million tons of it were created. Found in foods.

DEP- Di-ethyl phthalate- also very common in many fragrances and cosmetics (anything ending in ‘phthalates’)

What are their effects on humans?

Endocrine disruption (they mimic sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone, and interfere with normal processes of the endocrine system).


What are they found in?

Plastic water bottles (PET, HDPE, PVC (worst), BPA, plastic #3, 6, 7)


Dry cleaning


Wall covering

Medical devices


Food packaging

Plastic bags

Shower curtains

Baby formula


Personal care products (perfumes, lotions, cosmetics, nail polishes, lipstick, hair spray, shampoo)


Non organic Meat/Milk

Produce (sprayed with pesticides)

Drinking water


Whom are affected?

Women, men, and babies!

How can it affect my Fertility?

Phthalates are considered endocrine-disrupting chemicals. This means they are substances that alter the function of your endocrine system, especially targeting thyroid and sex hormones. Your thyroid and sex hormones are main components in your fertility. Studies have shown that endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as phthalates, have been linked to increasing risk factors for female fertility.

 Endometriosis and leiomyoma’s has been linked to phthalates, which can be another cause of infertility

BPA (used in more hard, rigid plastics) has been known to cause miscarriages

In a study, the breakdown product of DEP were about five times higher in infertile women and about three times higher in infertile men compared to their fertile counterparts. Levels of the breakdown product of DEHP were one third higher in infertile couples compared to fertile couples.

What about the boys?

High levels of phthalates have been known to be toxic for human sperm, and reduced sperm motility (specifically mono-benzyl and mono butyl phthalate).

Another study showed men with DNA-damaged sperm have also had mono-ethyl phthalate detected in their urine.

How can I avoid Phthalates?

Use glass water bottles

Store food in glass mason jars, or glass Tupperware

Don’t microwave or place hot food into plastic Tupperware

Say no to air fresheners in home, or in car unless scented with essential oils, or specify ‘phthalate free’

Buy a natural laundry detergent

Buy a quality water filter

Buy organic produce, meats and dairy

Give your kids wooden toys, instead of plastic

Opt for natural/organic cosmetics, lotions, shampoo/conditioner, nail polish

Avoid perfumes- watch for ‘fragrance’ in ingredient list

Read the resin identification code: Avoid #3, 6, 7 all together | 1, 2, 4, 5 are ‘safer’ however, still a toxin to the body

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