Endocrine disrupting chemicals and endometriosis

Fertil Steril. 2016 Sep 15;106(4):959-66. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.06.034. Epub 2016 Jul 15.


Endometriosis is an estrogen dependent gynecologic disease with lasting implications for many women's fertility, somatic health, and overall quality of life. Growing evidence suggests that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) may be etiologically involved in the development and severity of disease. We weigh the available human evidence focusing on EDCs and endometriosis, restricting to research that has individually quantified chemical concentrations for women, included a comparison group of unaffected women, and used multivariable analytic techniques. Evidence supporting an environmental etiology for endometriosis includes metals/trace elements, dioxins, and other persistent organic pollutants, as well as nonpersistent chemicals, such as benzophenones and phthalates. To address the equivocal findings for various EDCs, future research directions for filling data gaps include [1] use of integrated clinical and population sampling frameworks allowing for incorporation of new diagnostic modalities; [2] the collection of various biologic media, including target tissues for quantifying exposures; [3] study designs that offer various comparison groups to assess potentially shared etiologies with other gynecologic disorders; and [4] novel laboratory and statistical approaches that fully explore all measured EDCs for the assessment of mixtures and low dose effects and the use of directed acyclic graphs and supporting causal analysis for empirically delineating relationships between EDCs and endometriosis.

Keywords: Chemicals; endocrine disruptors; endometriosis; environment; pesticides.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endocrine Disruptors / adverse effects*
  • Endometriosis / chemically induced*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Environmental Pollutants