Menstrual disturbances and hormonal changes in women workers exposed to a mixture of organic solvents in a pharmaceutical company

Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2014 Dec 27:28:156. eCollection 2014.


Background: Chemicals are among risk factors that can affect women's reproductive system. This study is aimed to investigate the association of occupational exposure to a mixture of organic solvents with menstruation disturbances and hormonal changes among female workers.

Methods: Female workers of a pharmaceutical company were divided into three groups of non-exposed, lowexposed and highly-exposed to a mixture of organic solvents (formaldehyde, phenol, N-hexane, and chloroform) based on workplace measurements. Menstrual disturbances (in terms of short cycles, long cycles, irregular cycles, and bleeding or spotting between periods) and mean of hormone levels (including follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, prolactin, estrogen and progesterone levels) were compared between these three groups. For investigating associations, logistic regression was performed.

Results: Our study showed that mean length of cycles, duration of bleeding, and amount of flow and also prevalence of long cycles, irregular cycles, and bleeding or spotting between periods were higher in exposed groups (p≤0.05). Odds ratio for prevalence of menstrual disturbances in the low exposure group and high exposure group were 9.69 (p=0.001) and 3.40 (p=0.002) respectively compared to the reference group. Estrogen and progesterone levels were not affected (p> 0.05), but other hormones levels were significantly disturbed in the exposed groups compared with the non-exposed group (p=0.001).

Conclusion: Occupational exposure to the mixture of organic solvents may be associated with the increase of menstrual disorders and hormonal changes in female workers. Based on our findings, periodic evaluation of reproductive system of female workers in pharmaceutical companies is recommended.

Keywords: Hormones; Menstruation disturbances; Occupational exposure; Solvents; Women.