8 Ways Chemicals Kill Your Testosterone

Kristine Burke, MD
April 4, 2016

BPA. Formaldehyde. Phthalates. You've probably heard these buzzwords from time to and time. And chances are, you also shrugged them off as something women worry about.

But these are chemicals — there are actually about 80,000 of them in total — that we come into contact everyday.

Even more alarming is that most of them have never been tested for safety. Since legislation is flawed, we have no idea the full extent of the effects these chemicals have on our health or the environment. Most of the time, we can't even tell if a product contains dangerous chemicals since about 20 percent of them are kept secret by the companies that use them, according to the EPA.

What we do know is that toxic chemicals have been linked to everything from allergic reactions and skin irritation, development delays and autism, to insulin resistance, obesity, infertility, and cancer.

These chemicals can also have a profound impact on your testosterone levels and your prostate health.

Endocrine disruptors

BPA is one type of an endocrine disruptor which mimics hormones in the body and cause it to over-respond. They can also cause the body to respond at the wrong time or even block hormones.

It seems the greatest impact of endocrine disruptors happens when you're young, but it can also affect your health now. Endocrine disruptors can stimulate or obstruct the endocrine system and cause hormones in your body to under or overproduce. An underactive or overactive thyroid is one example of this. BPA increases prostate size blocking urine outflow . BPA has also been associated with prostate cancer in animal studies.


Phthalates are another class of chemicals that are of particular concern to men's health.

Over-exposure to phthalates can actually lead to what is known as "phthalate syndrome," a term used to describe abnormalities that can occur in baby boys and men.

In newborns, the effects can show up as small or undescended testes, reproductive tract problems, or a condition known as hypospadias, meaning that the opening of the urethra is found on the underside of the penis, not the tip.

In men, phthalate syndrome can cause low testosterone levels, poor semen quality, a low sperm count, and infertility. Although infertility is often seen as a woman's issue, male factor infertility is actually responsible for up to 30 percent of all infertility cases.

Reducing chemicals

Although it's impossible to avoid all of the chemicals in our environment, there are several ways to reduce your exposure. Here are 8:

  1. Clean up. Most brands of soap, shampoo, toothpaste, shaving cream, hair products, aftershave, and cologne are filled with chemicals. Those that list "fragrance" as an ingredient are actually phthalates in disguise. Check the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep website or download their app for product ratings and information.
  2. Replace. Household cleaning products, laundry detergents, and air fresheners are some of the worst chemical culprits. The EWG has information and guides for greener alternatives. Or make your own cleaning products with things like vinegar, baking soda, castile soap, and essential oils. It's easy, economical and safe.
  3. Tackle the garage. Fishing lures, paint, modeling clay, and many products you store in your garage or your workshop contain chemicals. Discard what you don't use and try to find alternatives like low-VOC paint.
  4. Re-think kids' toys. Children's toys have been found to contain lead, phthalates, BPA, and cadmium. Purge what they no longer play with, look for toys made with natural materials, and check Ecocenter.org for eco-friendly brands.
  5. Nix plastics. Reusable plastic food containers, food packaging and canned food, and water bottles all contain BPA. When heated, whether it's in the microwave, dishwasher, or even in your car, they can leash BPA into food. Start slowly to replace all of your plastic containers with glass or stainless steel.
  6. Say "no, thank you" to receipts. Another seemingly benign place for BPA to hide is on receipts. So the next time you make a purchase, ask for the receipt in the bag or have it emailed to you.
  7. Look for green dry cleaning. Dry cleaning leaves behind chemical solvents which have been linked to cancer. Look for dry cleaners who use liquid carbon dioxide or the wet cleaning method instead.
  8. Limit alcohol. Chemicals aren't the only issue when it comes to your health, since studies link alcohol consumption with low testosterone. It's okay — even a good idea to have a glass of wine with dinner, but just don't overdo it.

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