Urinary bisphenol A phthalates and couple fecundity The LIFE Study

Select phthalates, but not bisphenol A, were associated with diminished couple fecundity as measured by a longer time to pregnancy in a longitudinally observed cohort recruited before conception.

Germaine M. Buck Louis, Ph.D., M.S., Rajeshwari Sundaram, Ph.D., Anne M. Sweeney, Ph.D., M.P.H., Enrique F. Schisterman, Ph.D., M.A., Jose Maisog, M.D., M.S., Kurunthachalam Kannan, Ph.D.

Volume 101, Issue 5, Pages 1359–1366


To assess the relationship between environmental chemicals and couple fecundity or time to pregnancy (TTP).

Prospective cohort.

Communities of targeted populations with reported exposure.

501 couples recruited upon discontinuing contraception to become pregnant, 2005–2009.


Main Outcome Measure(s):
Fecundability odds ratios (FORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) estimated for each partner’s chemical concentrations adjusted for age, body mass index, cotinine, creatinine, and research site while accounting for time off contraception.

Couples completed interviews and anthropometric assessments and provided the urine specimens for quantification of bisphenol A (BPA) and 14 phthalate metabolites, which were measured using high-performance liquid chromatography with electrospray triple-quadrupole mass spectrometer. Women recorded menstruation and pregnancy test results in daily journals. Couples were evaluated until a positive human-chorionic gonadotropin pregnancy test or 12 cycles without pregnancy. Neither female nor male BPA concentration was associated with TTP (FOR 0.98; 95% CI, 0.86, 1.13 and FOR 1.04; 95% CI, 0.91, 1.18, respectively). Men’s urinary concentrations of monomethyl, mono-n-butyl, and monobenzyl phthalates were associated with a longer TTP (FOR 0.80; 95% CI, 0.70, 0.93; FOR 0.82, 95% CI, 0.70, 0.97; and FOR 0.77, 95% CI, 0.65 0.92, respectively).

Select male but not female phthalate exposures were associated with an approximately 20% reduction in fecundity, underscoring the importance of assessing both partners’ exposure to minimize erroneous conclusions.

  • Inmaculada Campos-Galindo

    Dear colleagues,

    I have carefully read your interesting paper.
    Endocrine disruptors, omnipresent in food, household, and personal care
    products are known to influence the endocrine system of humans and have been implicated in adverse trends in human health. We need to evaluate their potential action in humans. For these reason, your paper is very interesting.

    I would like to highlight your observation showing that couple determinations are not necessarily similar in both partners, so you have to study samples from man and woman.

    Some studies recommend to measure two urine samples to avoid intrapatient variability, but according to others such as Mahalingaiah et al (2008), one urine sample is enough to asses EDs.

    Probably, if the inclusion criteria of couples had been more restrictive you might observed significant differences among groups. Furthermore, If you are going to estimate fertility by TPP, maternal age is a common bias. In my opinion, it would have been ideal to include in your study couples with normal karyotype, normal inherited thrombophilia, no Y microdeletions, normal hormonal profile, no endocrine pathology, no immunological pathology, no anatomic anomalies…

Translate »