Perfluoroalkyl substances and ovarian hormone concentrations in naturally cycling women

Among 178 naturally cycling women, concentrations of perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid were inversely associated with salivary E2 and P concentrations. Associations were only evident in nulliparous women.


Emily S. Barrett, Ph.D., Chongshu Chen, M.A., Sally W. Thurston, Ph.D., Line Småstuen Haug, Ph.D., Azemira Sabaredzovic, M.Sc., Frøydis Nyborg Fjeldheim, M.D., Hanne Frydenberg, M.D., Susan F. Lipson, Ph.D., Peter T. Ellison, Ph.D., Inger Thune, M.D., Ph.D.

Volume 103, Issue 5, Pages 1261-1270



To examine associations between environmental exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and ovarian hormone concentrations in naturally cycling women.


E2 and P were measured in saliva samples collected daily for a single menstrual cycle and concentrations of PFASs (including perfluoroctane sulfonate [PFOS] and perfluoroctanoic acid) were measured in serum samples collected during the same cycle.


Not applicable.


A total of 178 healthy, naturally cycling women, aged 25–35 years.



Main Outcome Measure(s):

Mean follicular E2 (cycle days −7 to −1, where 0 is the day of ovulation); mean luteal P (cycle days +2 to 10).


Among nulliparous, but not parous women, PFOS concentrations were inversely associated with E2 (β = −0.025, 95% CI −0.043, −0.007) and P (β = −0.027, 95% CI −0.048, −0.007). Similar, but weaker results were observed for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid. No associations were observed between other PFASs (including perfluoroctanoic acid) and ovarian steroid concentrations, nor were any associations noted in parous women.


Our results demonstrate that PFOS and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid may be associated with decreased production of E2 and P in reproductive age women. These results suggest a possible mechanism by which PFASs affect women’s health, and underscore the importance of parity in research on PFASs and women’s reproductive health.

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