Fertility and Reproduction

Without knowing it, we may be exposed daily to substances that affect our ability to reproduce: reprotoxics.

What is the definition of a reprotoxic?

A reprotoxicant is defined as a chemical or mixture of chemicals that can impair fertility in men or women, or induce effects on the development of the unborn child or child.

What are the effects of reprotoxics on fertility?

Fertility refers to all processes that affect the ability of men and women to reproduce naturally. This includes adverse effects on

  •     Libido
  •     Sexual behaviour
  •     Sperm formation
  •     Egg formation
  •     Fertilisation capacity
  •     Fertilisation including implantation of the fertilised egg

Reprotoxins increase the risk of spontaneous abortion and the time to pregnancy.

What are the developmental effects of reprotoxics?

Developmental toxicity refers to anyone who

  •     Disrupting pregnancy
  •     Disrupting normal development during pregnancy
  •     Disrupting normal development after birth
  •     Toxic to the embryo (embryotoxic)
  •     Toxic to the foetus (foetotoxic)

This includes, but is not limited to

  •     Reduced fetal weight and birth weight
  •     Growth retardation of the child
  •     Developmental delays
  •     Organ toxicity
  •     Congenital anomalies
  •     Functional abnormalities
  •     Impaired mental and physical development from birth to puberty
  •     Spontaneous abortion
  •     Fetal death 

When are we talking about fertility disorders?

Consideration of fertility disorders should be given after 6 to 12 months of unsuccessful attempts.

"About 1 in 5 couples consult a doctor for fertility problems.

After stopping contraception:

  •     26% of women are pregnant after one month.
  •     32% of women are pregnant after six months.
  •     18% of women are pregnant after one year.
  •     8% of women are pregnant after two years.

What are the periods of life most at risk for exposure to reprotoxins?

Due to their toxicological properties, exposure to reprotoxins is of particular concern for men and women during the following periods

  •     Preconception: Many couples who have difficulty conceiving a child are unaware that they are exposed to reprotoxic chemicals. These substances have effects on the fertility of both men and women.


  •     Gestation: During pregnancy your unborn child is particularly sensitive to the effects of exposure to reprotoxic substances that may affect its development.


  •     Breastfeeding: Reprotoxic chemicals pass directly from the mother to the infant and can affect the infant's development.


  •     Early childhood: Babies and young children are particularly sensitive to exposure to reprotoxic agents. In particular, it can affect the development of sexual organs and reproductive capacities.


  • Puberty: This period of maturation of sexual characteristics is particularly important for the development of reproductive capacities. Reprotoxicants can induce long-term effects on their fertility.

What are reprotoxic substances?

The list of reprotoxic substances includes solvents, plastic additives (phthalate and bisphenol-A), heavy metals (lead), pesticides, PCBs, dioxins and medicines.

The reprotoxicity of substances is classified according to 3 levels:

  •     Category 1A: Proven Reprotoxic
  •     Category 1B: Presumed reprotoxic
  •     Category 2: Suspected reprotoxic

To date, among the thousands of chemicals used in industry, very few have been studied for their reprotoxic properties.

Reprotoxicity studies are carried out by industry in the framework of national and international (European Union) regulations such as REACH. These studies are only mandatory for the most widely used substances (> 10 tonnes/year).

How are we exposed to reprotoxics?

Reprotoxic substances can be present in our daily environment, mainly in the air we breathe, in the food and water we consume, and through skin contact.

In the home it is common to be exposed to reprotoxic substances without being aware of it, for example phthalates and bisphenols in plastics.

Occupational exposure is by far the most important. Operators may be aware of it, but most of the time they are unaware of it, either because of a lack of information or because of the occasional use of certain products.

Exposure to reprotoxins is generally combined with exposure to other chemicals (mixtures of solvents, pesticides, detergents, etc.) or constraints (stress, standing or sitting, night work, etc.) which increase the toxicity of reprotoxins.

The effect of mixtures of several reprotoxins is often much more harmful than the sum of their individual effects. Therefore, it is recommended to look for as wide a range of substances as possible.

Some sectors of activity may present an increased risk of exposure to reprotoxins. This is the case in particular:

  •     Construction and public works,
  •     Railway and shipbuilding,
  •     Metallurgy, glass and metal industry,
  •     Chemical and pharmaceutical industry,
  •     The leather and rubber industry,
  •     the oil industry,
  •     the wood industry,
  •     Agriculture,
  •     Research laboratories,
  •     Services (maintenance, cleaning, etc.).

Why measure exposure to reprotoxins?

Only a laboratory measurement can identify the reprotoxic substances to which we are exposed. This knowledge makes it possible to become aware of the risks, to identify the sources and to act to limit exposure.

This measurement is useful for :

  •     Preventing fertility problems before conception.
  •     Understanding and identifying the origin of fertility problems.
  •     Preventing risks to the developing embryo and foetus.
  •     Assessing occupational risks for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  •     Assessing the risks for sensitive individuals (pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants, babies and young children).

How to measure exposure to reprotoxics?

Exposure to reprotoxins is measured by analysing the ambient air or a biological hair sample.

EXPOZOM proposes the search in the air and in the body for substances with a proven or suspected reprotoxic character.


Reprotoxic/Fertility Analysis

Measurement of the exposure to reprotoxic substances contained in the air we breathe, the water or food we consume and the objects we come into contact with. Order your Test