Sterile or Infertile and Endocrine Disruptors

Dr. Angel Cunill

Clinical Andrology Madrid, Spain.


Endocrine disruptors, also called endocrine distusbers, do not kill, but it does have effects on our hormones, so that can cause thyroid problems, fertility, impotence, behavioral abnormalities, feminization and stunted growth.

Hypogonadism is defined as testosterone deficiency associated with signs or symptoms, poor sperm production or both. It may be due to a disorder of the testes (primary hypogonadism) or hypothalamic-pituitary axis (secondary hypogonadism).

Both options can be congenital or acquired as a result of aging, disease, other substances or other factors. In addition, there are several shortcomings of some congenital enzymes that cause different degrees of androgen resistance in the target organs. The diagnosis is confirmed by the evaluation of hormone levels. Treatment varies with the etiology, but generally includes administration of testosterone.

Numerous studies have linked the pathologies observed in various animal species and in man with exposure to environmental contaminants with hormonal activity. It has agreed the term of endocrine disruptors to define the group of chemical compounds that interact with the endocrine system, effects on inducing potentially, due to their ability to:

-How the endocrine disturbers work:

1) mimic the action of endogenous hormones

2) antagonize the action of hormones

3) alter their synthesis and metabolism pattern

4) modulate the levels of the corresponding receptors.

Human exposure to endocrine disruptors is universal and can come from many sources. Furthermore, the compounds are accumulated in the fat and transmitted to offspring by the mother during gestation and after lactation.

The effects on human health of continuous exposicición these endocrine disruptors need to be investigated in more depth.

-Where we can find them:

Chemicals that are endocrine disruptors are present in certain everyday products: as in coating food cans, the plastic from which they are manufactured bottles (now banned), spermicide that embody some preservatives, the product used as sealant white teeth, some sanitary materials; industrial detergents, sunscreens, cosmetics, pesticides and herbicides, thermosensitive paper, (the famous ticket of purchase).

The list is endless suggesting that human exposure is extensive and universal; exposure patterns and pathways for hormonal contaminants are diverse, but due to its accumulation in the food chain, the digestive tract is the main route of exposure in humans. So much so that the composition of fat soluble mixtures found in human tissues varies according to regional differences in the use of these compounds and the dietary habits of the exposed populations.

For most chemicals described is a pattern of increased body load with age. This is probably the result of three factors:

1) The accumulation of products over time.

2) Increased exposure in elderly lived because in periods

of high use of organochlorine derivatives (such as DDT).

3) The metabolism is slower and the possibility of joining through

breastfeeding or pregnancy in older people.


Epidemiological data seem to show that reproductive character disorders have increased over the last forty years. A, around 50%, significant decline in sperm counts in man described for the period 1940-1990. Alterations in the development of the genitourinary system, including cryptorchidism, no testicular descent, common in men and associated with testicular cancer and infertility, are becoming more frequent.

Dioxins are persistent chemicals. It is a byproduct of various industrial processes. And they reach the human body through the intake of meat, dairy products or fish that contain them. Fertility affects fertility and dioxins are transmitted from mother to child through the placenta during pregnancy and after birth through breastfeeding.

It has been hypothesized that exposure to endocrine disruptors may be linked to increased pathologies. In case of women, the increase in certain pathologies associated with our time, such as hormone dependent cancer, either breast or ovarian, and the higher incidence of new cases of infertility linked to endometriosis, among others, they may also be related to inadvertent exposure to endocrine disruptors.

September 2017

Further see in this blog, the Report of the EU on Endocrine Disruptors in pdf format.

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