Exposure to chemical substances can cause adverse effects on the male and female reproductive systems. Reproductive toxicity may be expressed as alterations in sexual behavior, decreases in fertility, or loss of the fetus during pregnancy. A reproductive toxicant may interfere with the sexual functioning or reproductive ability of exposed individuals from puberty throughout adulthood. Toxicants that target the female reproductive system can cause a wide variety of adverse effects. Changes
in sexual behavior, onset of puberty, cyclicity, fertility, gestation time, pregnancy outcome, and lactation as well as premature menopause are among the potential manifestations of female reproductive toxicity: all can disrupt a womans ability to successfully reproduce. Exposure to lead, for example, can result in menstrual disorders and infertility. The toxicants carbon disulfide, mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PBCs) have been shown to cause irregularities in the menstrual cycle. Toxicants that target the male reproductive system can affect sperm count or shape, alter sexual behavior, and/or increase infertility. Carbon disulfide and the pesticides chlordecone (kepone), ethylene dibromide (EDB), and dibromochloropropane (DBCP) are examples of chemicals known to disrupt male reproductive health.