Effects of Endocrine-disrupting Chemicals on Female Reproductive Health

Aparna Mahakali Zama*, Arpita Bhurke, Mehmet Uzumcu
Department of Animal Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 84 Lipman Drive, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA

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© Zama et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Animal Sciences, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 84 Lipman Drive, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8525, USA; Tel: +1-848-932-8495; Fax: +1-732-932-6996; E-mail:


Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are increasingly prevalent in the environment and the evidence demonstrates that they affect reproductive health, has been accumulating for the last few decades. In this review of recent literature, we present evidence of the effects of estrogen-mimicking EDCs on female reproductive health especially the ovaries and uteri. As representative EDCs, data from studies with a pharmaceutical estrogen, diethylstilbestrol (DES), an organochlorine pesticide methoxychlor (MXC), a phytoestrogen (genistein), and a chemical used in plastics, bisphenol a (BPA) have been presented. We also discuss the effects of a commonly found plasticizer in the environment, a phthalate (DEHP), even though it is not a typical estrogenic EDC. Collectively, these studies show that exposures during fetal and neonatal periods cause developmental reprogramming leading to adult reproductive disease. Puberty, estrous cyclicity, ovarian follicular development, and uterine functions are all affected by exposure to these EDCs. Evidence that epigenetic modifications are involved in the progression to adult disease is also presented.

Keywords: Bisphenol A, diethylstilbestrol, developmental reprogramming, endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), epigenetic, female reproductive health, genistein, methoxychlor, phthalate, ovary, uterus, xenoestrogen.