Pretty good or pretty bad? The ovary and chemicals in personal care products

Zelieann R. Craig, Ayelet Ziv-Gal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Personal care products (PCP) contain a myriad of chemicals generally formulated to provide a safe and beneficial use. Nonetheless, an increasing amount of laboratory animal and human studies indicate that some chemicals in PCP are associated with decreased hormone production, diminished ovarian reserve, ovarian cancer, and early pregnancy loss. The ovary is key to female fertility by providing the eggs and sex steroid hormones for fertilization and maintenance of reproductive function, respectively. Thus, understanding how chemicals in PCP affect the ovary will shed some light on their potential effects on female fertility. In this review, we provide an overview of: (1) ovarian function as a determinant of fertility in females, (2) the status of knowledge regarding the effects of seven common chemicals in PCP on the ovary, and (3) significant gaps in the literature along with opportunities to eliminate some of the gaps. Findings from the limited existing data suggest that chemicals in PCP such as dibutyl phthalate can reach the ovary in humans and impact its function in animal models. Unfortunately, it is still difficult to assess how relevant findings of experimental studies are to women because of lack of human exposure data for most of these chemicals and the lack of studies that mimic real-life exposures. In contrast to chemicals such as bisphenol A and dioxin, the investigation of the effects of chemicals in PCP on reproductive function is still limited and warrants further investigation to fill existing data gaps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-360
Number of pages12
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Parabens
  • Personal care products
  • Phthalates
  • Steroidogenesis
  • Triclosan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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