Parabens and Menopause-Related Health Outcomes in Midlife Women: A Pilot Study

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2022 Nov;31(11):1645-1654. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2022.0004. Epub 2022 Jul 5.


Background: Parabens are antimicrobial agents prevalently found in daily-use products that can interfere with the endocrine and reproductive systems. In this study, we examined the cross-sectional associations of parabens with hot flashes, hormone concentrations, and ovarian volume in a subsample of 101 nonsmoking, non-Hispanic 45- to 54-year-old women from the Midlife Women's Health Study. Materials and Methods: Women self-reported their hot flash history and underwent a transvaginal ultrasound to measure ovarian volume. Participants provided blood for quantification of serum hormones (by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay or radioimmunoassay) and urine samples for measurements of urinary paraben biomarker levels (by high-performance liquid chromatography negative-ion electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry). Linear or logistic regression models evaluated associations of specific gravity-adjusted paraben biomarker concentrations with hot flashes, hormone concentrations, and ovarian volume. Results: We observed marginal associations of propylparaben, methylparaben, and ∑parabens biomarkers (molar sum of four parabens) with hot flashes and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) concentrations, and of these paraben biomarkers and ethylparaben with ovarian volume. For example, women tended to have 32% (95% confidence intervals [CI]: 0.9 to 1.81), 40% (95% CI: 1.0 to 1.95), and 40% (95% CI: 0.98 to 2.01) higher odds of having recent, monthly, and mild hot flashes, respectively, for every two-fold increase in ∑parabens. Similarly, women tended to have 14.54% (95% CI: -0.10 to 31.32) higher FSH concentrations, but 5.67% (95% CI: -12.54 to 1.75) reduced ovarian volume for every two-fold increase in ∑parabens Conclusions: Overall, our preliminary findings suggest that urinary paraben biomarkers may be associated with menopause-related outcomes in midlife women. Additional studies in larger and diverse populations are needed to expand on these findings.

Keywords: FSH; hormone; hot flashes; menopause; ovary; parabens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • Hot Flashes*
  • Humans
  • Menopause*
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Parabens* / adverse effects
  • Pilot Projects


  • Biomarkers
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • Parabens