Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and Impact on Male Reproductive Health

Saba Rehman; Zeenat Usman; Sabeen Rehman; Moneera AlDraihem; Noor Rehman; Ibraheem Rehman; Gulfam Ahmad

Disclosures

Transl Androl Urol. 2018;7(3):490-503. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have been known to adversely affect the endocrine system leading to compromised functions of hormones. The presence of these compounds in everyday products such as canned food, water bottles, plastics, cosmetics, fertilizers, kid's toys and many others goods is a greater concern for general population. The persistent and long-term use of EDCs has deleterious effects on human reproductive health by interfering with the synthesis and mechanism of action of sex hormones. Any change during the synthesis or action of the sex hormones may result in abnormal reproductive functions which includes developmental anomalies in the reproductive tract and decline in semen quality. The present paper provides an overview of the EDCs and their possible impact on male reproductive health with major focus on semen quality which leads to male infertility.

Introduction

The endocrine system maintains homeostasis of the bodily systems through hormones that can travel long distances in the body and often have amplified effects. Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are the substances which change the course of endocrine systems in a way that adversely affects the organism itself or its progeny.[1] These chemicals can be found in a variety of everyday products and goods, such as in foods, water, plastics, shampoos, clothes, toothpastes, soaps, fertilizers, paper, textiles, carpets, utensils, bedding, toy, cosmetics, deodorant, etc. [2–4]. Because of the use of EDCs in several consumer goods and personal care products, humans are exposed to the harmful effects of these substances in a variety of ways which include ingestion, germination, inhalation, and dermal contact. Hence, EDCs call for greater attention because of their increasing utility in daily products and possible correlation with compromised male reproductive health. The endocrine system is particularly important for male reproductive development because androgens (such as testosterone) promote the maturation of male secondary characteristics as well as the process of spermatogenesis. Male reproductive health- specifically sperm count and testosterone-have been declining,[5,6] which is correlated with an increase in a variety of EDCs, such as perfluoroalkyl compounds.[2] Regional differences have also been reported in urban versus rural areas showing a statistical correlation between poor semen quality and higher levels of EDCs found in pesticides, such as alachlor, diazinon, atrazine, metolachlor, and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid.[7] Such evidence linking the increasing prevalence of EDCs to declining semen quality and male reproductive health calls attention to the detrimental effects of EDCs.

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