Reproductive Health in Females and Males
Reproductive health refers to the condition of female and male reproductive systems during all life stages. These systems are made of reproductive organs, including the ovaries in females and the testicles in males. These organs produce and release hormones, as do other hormone-producing glands in the body such as the pituitary gland in the brain.
Female disorders include:
- Early or delayed puberty.
- Menstrual problems.
- Infertility or reduced fertility.
- Problems during pregnancy.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (ovaries produce more male hormones than normal).
- Uterine fibroids.
Male disorders include:
- Impotence or erectile dysfunction.
- Low sperm count.
Chemical exposure may hinder reproductive assistance in women and men: Exposure to high levels of flame retardants and plasticizers may hinder in vitro fertilization (IVF), a medical procedure used to help women get pregnant. Women with higher levels of these chemicals in their urine had fewer ovary cells, and less successful pregnancies and live births.
Flame retardant chemicals, used in some electronic, fabric, and foam products, may enter your body by breathing dust or drinking water that is contaminated with them.
Men with higher levels of flame retardants in their urine had less successful fertilization during IVF. In addition, urinary levels of phthalates in males, but not females, were associated with lower-quality embryos.
Air pollution and pregnancy hypertension: Traffic-related air pollution increases a pregnant woman’s risk for blood pressure, or hypertensive, disorders.
Heavy lifting or shift work and decreased fertility: Two occupational factors for women —lifting heavy loads or working non-daytime schedules — are associated with fewer eggs, which could indicate decreased fertility.
Chemical exposure and fetal growth: Exposure during pregnancy to phthalates and phenols, chemicals commonly found in plastics, as well as arsenic, a naturally occurring chemical found in food, soil, and water, could lead to low birth weight, and the early onset of puberty.
Phthalates, parabens, and phenols associated with early puberty: The daughters of pregnant women whose bodies had high levels of these chemicals, which are common in personal care products, started puberty earlier than normal.
Soy formula and menstrual pain: Girls fed soy formula as infants are more likely to develop heavy menstrual bleeding, severe menstrual pain, endometriosis, and larger fibroids later in life.
Vitamin D and uterine fibroids: Women with adequate levels of vitamin D are less likely to develop uterine fibroids than those with inadequate levels.