New Research Shows Certain Pollutants Lower Fertility Rates

We’re sure you have enough to worry about as a modern woman, given that “having it all” basically means trying to live up to impossible standards and often feeling like a failure as a result. So, we don’t want to ice your stress cake unnecessarily—yet we do find a new study by an intensely scary-sounding publication called Reproductive Toxicology to be of enough potential relevance that we’re compelled to share its result. The research—for the record—was small scale and involved just 32 women who were undergoing in vitro fertilization, but its findings are nonetheless alarming. The study’s authors say exposure to “persistent organic pollutants,” which are “extensively employed for myriad industrial and consumer applications,” affected the success of IVF or, in other words, made the women studied less fertile.

While it’s not exactly shocking that fertility rates might be declining due to the many toxins we’re exposed to daily, one statistic did make our jaws drop. “Between 1982 and 2002 the number of women reporting difficulty conceiving and maintaining pregnancy increased by about 60%, and 200% for women less than 25 years old, suggesting important causal factors in addition to advancing average maternal age.” Yikes.

The good news? In 2001, the United Nations Environment Programme adopted the Stockholm Convention, which is meant to regulate the use of these chemicals. As of 2014, there are 179 countries in compliance with the convention, though the US has not yet ratified it.