Certain chemicals used in sunscreens and other personal care products have been linked to reduced fecundity in men, according to a study appearing in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The study was conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center.

As part of the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) study that was established to examine relationships among fertility, lifestyle factors, and exposure to environmental chemicals, 501 couples who were discontinuing use of contraceptives in order to become pregnant were recruited from 16 counties in Michigan and Texas from 2005–2009. None of the couples had a confirmed diagnosis of infertility at the study baseline. Daily journals were completed by the couples until they achieved pregnancy or had tried for 12 months, along with urine specimens and fertility monitors for the women.

RELATED: The Beverages That Help, Hinder Fertility in Men

After controlling for factors that included age, body mass index, and smoking, men with high exposure (75th percentile and above) to the UV filters BP-2 or 4-hydroxybenzophenone had a 30% reduction in fecundity; after adjusting for both partners’ concentrations, male BP-2 concentration remained associated with reduced fecundity.

These results suggest that male exposure to these UV filters may reduce couples’ fecundity and lead to a longer time to pregnancy, independent of their partners’ exposure. However, the author warn that the results are preliminary and additional research is needed to confirm the findings.

For more information visit NIH.gov.