Is Your Rubber Ducky Ruining Your Sex Life?

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Chances are pretty good that when you are taking inventory about all the things that are interfering with your sex life, things like your little rubber ducky isn’t one of them. In fact, you probably haven’t given a second thought to any of the plastic in your life or the harm they could be causing you, but new research that was presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s annual meeting showed that exposure to compounds called phthalates can play a dramatic role when it comes to a woman’s sexual desire.

This study entitled “The Study for Future Families” involved pregnant women from several cities around the US. They were asked to fill out questionnaires related to their sexual interest and sexual problems, as well as provide urine samples to test for phthalate exposure. After adjusting for certain variables, such as age, education, race, anti-depressant usage, and number of children, scientists discovered that women who were in the top 25 percent of exposure were more than 2.5 times more likely to state that they had lost interest in sex.

Over the past 50 years, there has also been a dramatic decline in men’s testosterone levels, as well as a reduced level in the quality of semen and an increase in genital malformation in newborn males. The University of Michigan School of Public Health stated in a press relief that they have found evidence of increased levels of phthalate exposure, especially for boys between the ages of 6 and 12, and women between the ages of 40 and 60. Low testosterone levels in young males will negatively affect reproductive development and for middle aged women, phthalates can decrease libido, energy levels, sexual function, and cognitive function.

What exactly are phthalates? These are chemicals that are found in just about everything around us today including cosmetics, nail polish, vinyl floors, shampoo, hair spray, raincoats, some pharmaceutical drugs, baby care products, household products and insecticides, and plastic. Yes, this would include your rubber ducky. Phthalates are what make plastics soft. They have a definite smell to them. When you open a new plastic shower curtain, that smell? That very distinctive smell? Those are phthalates. So when you have any plastic that is soft, flexible, squeezable, you can bet your bottom dollar that it contains phthalates. Think about how many items are in your home right now, including your children’s toys, which are made from soft, pliable plastic. Staggering isn’t it? Read also about other household items known to cause cancer.

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Phthalates have been linked to more serious health problems than just ruining your sex life. These dangerous chemicals have been linked to birth defects, asthma, and certain types of cancer. Phthalates disrupt the natural hormone production in the body. In one study, published in the journal Environmental Research, it was found that prenatal exposure to phthalates had a hugely negative effect on the reproductive function of men.  Further research, conducted by the European Union, backs up these findings and estimates that male infertility, caused by phthalate exposure, resulted in approximately 618,000 medical fertility interventions each year.

Another study involving more than 2,200 subjects conducted by the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, found that these subjects had as much as a 34.1 percent drop in testosterone levels, as well as 13 different substances in their urine, including phthalates.

It’s true that there are other factors involved when it comes to a loss of sexual desire: job stress, relationship issues, childcare, and even declining hormones as women age and leave their childbearing years. However, for healthy couples who do not appear to have any logical reason why they should have a loss of interest in sex, phthalates are a very probable cause.

Although exposure to these hormone disrupting chemicals is almost impossible to avoid entirely in today’s modern society, there is little room for doubt that these chemicals have taken a terrible effect on the human reproductive system and human health. People everywhere would be wise to avoid phthalates as much as possible and to find safe alternatives.


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You can identify phthalates infused plastics by avoiding PVC type plastics and plastics with the recycling number 3 on them. Also, many scented products contain phthalates. Avoid any products that have “added fragrance” or “parfums” printed on the label. This includes most fabric softeners (white vinegar will do the same thing), laundry soaps, and air fresheners. Always buy organic foods, as phthalates are used in many pesticides. This is especially important if you are pregnant as phthalates can cause harm to the placenta.

Other ways to avoid phthalates:

  • Choose wood doors and windows instead of vinyl ones
  • Use glass containers for food storage
  • Use cloth shower curtains rather than vinyl ones
  • Buy toys from manufacturers that do not use PVC such as Lego, Little Tikes, and Early Start
  • Buy toys made from wood or other natural materials for very young children
  • Always read the labels on perfumes, soaps, skin care products, cosmetics, and deodorants. If they contain DEP, DBP, DEHP, phthalates, fragrance, or parfum, choose another product. Even “unscented” products sometimes contain the above ingredients, so always double check the label.

Faced with the mounting evidence that phthalates are harming our reproductive systems, as well as killing our sexual desire, you would be wise to limit your exposure, as well as your children’s exposure, to phthalates as much as possible.