Menstrual cycle characteristics as determinants of plasma concentrations of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort (MoBa study)

Environ Res. 2018 Oct:166:78-85. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.05.019. Epub 2018 Jun 4.


Introduction: Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are fluorinated organic compounds that have been used in a variety of industrial and consumer applications. Menstruation is implicated as a possible route of elimination for PFASs in women. The overall purpose of this study was to examine menstrual cycle characteristics as determinants of plasma PFAS concentrations in women.

Methods: Our study sample consisted of 1977 pregnant women from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort (MoBa) study. The women were asked about menstrual cycle regularity in the year before the pregnancy and typical menstrual cycle length as well as other demographic and reproductive characteristics in a questionnaire completed during the pregnancy. Blood samples were collected around 17-18 weeks gestation and PFAS concentrations were measured in plasma. We examined the association between menstrual cycle characteristics and seven PFASs (perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnDA), perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), perfluoroheptane sulfonate (PFHpS), and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)) using multiple linear regression, adjusted for age, pre-pregnancy body mass index, smoking, education, income, parity, oral contraceptive use, inter-pregnancy interval, and breastfeeding duration.

Results: Irregular cycles were not associated with PFAS concentrations. Overall, we found no evidence of associations between menstrual cycle length and PFAS concentrations. In subgroup analyses we found some evidence, among parous women, of decreased PFHpS and PFOS with short menstrual cycles; we also found, among recent OC users (in the 12 months before the questionnaire) increased PFNA and PFUnDA with long cycle length. Limitations of our study include misclassification of menstrual cycle characteristics, small sample sizes in the sub-group analyses, and a lack of information on duration and volume of menses.

Conclusions: In the entire study sample, we found little evidence of menstrual cycle characteristics as determinants of PFAS concentrations. However, we observed some associations between cycle length and PFAS concentrations with some select PFAS compounds in subgroup analyses.

Keywords: Cycle length; Irregularity; Menstrual; MoBa; Perfluoroalkyl substances.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / blood*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / blood*
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Cycle*
  • Norway
  • Pregnancy


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fluorocarbons