Your shampoo bottle, hair spray and plastic food storage containers may affect your sex life. And not in a good way.
Chemicals found in the plastic products we use every day leach into our bodies. Slathering our skin and hair with commonly used toiletries and cosmetics also exposes us to the substances. Several scientific studies have found evidence of these chemicals in people's bodies.
There has been much discussion about whether and how much these chemicals affect us. A new study by University of Michigan scientists revealed that people with higher levels of the chemicals in their urine tended to have lower levels of testosterone.
You may think that testosterone is important only for men, but that's not true. Everyone … women and children included … needs some testosterone to function optimally. Insufficient testosterone can cause sexual dysfunction, low libido, lack of energy, low bone density, muscle loss, heart problems and other difficulties.
The study looked at data from more than 2,000 people and found that testosterone deficiency struck certain groups of people the most. Among women, testosterone deficiency was most likely in those between the ages 40 and 60. In men, low levels of the hormone were most common in those ages 6 to 12.
The chemicals the study focused on are in a class called phthalates (THAL-ates). Chemicals known as parabens also are suspected of affecting hormones.
In the U.S., there is little regulation of these chemicals because federal agencies say they don't yet have enough evidence they cause damage. But scientific studies like this one are piling up, pointing to the distinct possibility that these chemicals are dangerous.
To protect yourself, look for products labeled phthalate- or paraben-free. And reduce your use of plastics as much as possible. Storing food in glass containers is an easy place to start.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Nov;99(11):4346-52. doi: 10.1210/jc.2014-2555. Epub 2014 Aug 14.