Reproductive Health


expectant parents seated on bench
generative health refers to the condition of male and female generative systems during all life stages. These systems are made of organs and hormone-producing glands, including the pituitary gland in the brain. Ovaries in females and testicles in males are generative organs, or gonads, that maintain health of their respective systems. They besides function as glands because they produce and release hormones .
generative disorders affect millions of Americans each year .
female disorders include :

  • Early or delayed puberty.
  • Endometriosis, a condition where the tissue that normally lines the inside of the womb, known as the endometrium, grows outside of it.
  • Inadequate breastmilk supply.
  • Infertility or reduced fertility (difficulty getting pregnant).
  • Menstrual problems including heavy or irregular bleeding.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome, ovaries produce more male hormones than normal.
  • Problems during pregnancy.
  • Uterine fibroids, noncancerous growths in a woman’s uterus or womb.

male disorders include :

  • Impotence or erectile dysfunction.
  • Low sperm count.

Scientists believe environmental factors probable play a character in some generative disorders. research shows exposure to environmental factors could affect generative health in the take after ways :

  • Exposure to lead is linked to reduced fertility in both men and women.1
  • Mercury exposure has been linked to issues of the nervous system like memory, attention, and fine motor skills.2
  • Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a drug once prescribed to women during pregnancy, can lead to increased risks in their daughters of cancer, infertility, and pregnancy complications.3
  • Exposure to endocrine-disrupting compounds, chemicals that interfere with the body’s hormones, may contribute to problems with puberty, fertility, and pregnancy.4

What is NIEHS Doing?

NIEHS conducts and funds research to understand environmental factors that may affect human generative health .
Heavy lifting or shift work and decreased fertility – Two occupational factors for women – lifting heavy loads or working non-daytime schedules – are associated with fewer eggs in their ovaries, which could indicate decrease fertility. 5
Chemical exposure and assisted reproductive technology – exposure to high levels of fire retardants 6 and plasticizers 7 may have a minus impact on the outcomes of in vitro fertilization ( IVF ), a technology used to help people get pregnant. The researchers found that women with higher levels of these chemicals in their urine had lower levels of ovary cells necessity for replica, and fewer successful pregnancies and hot births .
Chemical exposure and fetal growth – exposure during pregnancy to phthalates 8 and phenols 9, chemicals normally found in plastics, vitamin a well as arsenic, a naturally occurring chemical found in food, air, land, and water system, could lead to low birth weight 10, early attack of puberty, and fleshiness. 11
BPA and breastfeeding – Women who had more liaison with bisphenol A ( BPA ), an endocrine-disrupting chemical found in many plastics, were more probable to report that they stopped breastfeeding because they believed they were not producing adequate breastmilk. 12
Phthalates, parabens, and phenols associated with early puberty – The daughters of pregnant women whose bodies had eminent levels of these chemicals ( common in personal caution products ) started puberty earlier than convention. 13
Soy formula and menstrual pain – Girls who were fed soy sauce formula as infants are more likely to develop heavy menstrual run 14, hard menstrual pain 15, endometriosis 16, and larger fibroids 17 late in life.

Vitamin D and uterine fibroids – Women with adequate levels of vitamin D are less likely to develop uterine fibroids than those with inadequate levels. 18

NIEHS Research Efforts

Further Reading

Stories from the Environmental Factor (NIEHS newsletter)

Fact Sheets

Hair Dye and Cosmetics fact sheet cover page 2 pages ( 1MB )

Cosmetics and Hair Dye

Environmental Diseases From A to Z 13 pages ( 2MB )

Environment and Health A to Z

Reproductive Health in Females and Males pdf preview 2 pages ( 1MB )

Reproductive Health in Females and Males


  • Preventing Prenatal Exposures – Identifies common environmental contaminants and discusses how doctors and pregnant women can work together to reduce exposures.
  • The Environment’s Role in Infertility – Describes potential relationships between environmental chemicals and infertility in both men and women.

Additional Resources

Related Health Topics

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Category : Healthy