High Levels Can Keep Conception At Bay

Have you heard of phthalates? It turns out that in otherwise healthy couples, a man's high levels of phthalates can delay pregnancy.

Woman taking pregnancy test

Trying to conceive can be easy or it can take some time. Sometimes, if a couple has difficulty conceiving, the reason can be found and often can be corrected. Other times, the story isn't so clear. Researchers have discovered a clue — they found that in couples hoping to achieve pregnancy, the men who had high levels of phthalates didn't conceive as easily as their peers with lower levels did.

What are phthalates?

Phthalates are chemicals that are found in a number of different products such as plastics and food packaging as well as in personal products such as shampoos and lotions. They are considered a potential health concern as they may interfere with hormone systems. While there isn't conclusive proof that they are damaging, many people are shying away from products that contain them.

What do they have to do with TTC?

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health studied the levels of BPA and 14 other different phthalates in approximately 500 couples who were trying to conceive. These couples also kept TTC "journals," keeping track of intercourse timing, menstrual cycles and pregnancy test results.

It turns out that the couples where the man had high levels of three common phthalates took approximately 20 percent longer to get pregnant. Study author Germaine Buck Louis says that this is comparable to couples who smoke cigarettes or who have obesity issues.

They didn't determine, however, the reason why. They only looked at the time it took couples to get pregnant and not how, exactly, these chemicals affect fertility. While BPA levels in this study did not indicate a delay in these couples getting pregnant, prior studies with that particular compound noted that high levels of both BPA and phthalates could lead to pregnancy problems with women.

More on TTC

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TTC may take longer for women with asthma
When your pregnancy test lies to you

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