Researchers from the National Institutes of Health found that the chemicals in sunscreens and personal care products that filter out UV rays could lead to male infertility.
When applied, sunscreen lotion can enter the bloodstream after being absorbed through the skin.
Researchers followed 500 couples to find out the impact of the chemicals and fertility. They tested participants’ urine samples and kept daily journals on sex and menstruation until they had conceived or tried to conceive for 12 months.
They found that the couples who were not able to conceive or took the longest to conceive had high concentrations of BP-2 or 4OH-BP in the male partner’s urine. These are the two UV filter chemicals which are usually found in sunscreens, and also in some moisturizers and shampoos.
Germaine Buck Louis, the lead author of the study, explained that this research is in the very early stages, as there hasn’t been much work done in this area. Therefore, it is not clear about the role played by these chemicals in decreasing male fertility.
Louis said, “In our study, male fecundity [the biological ability to reproduce] seems to be more susceptible to these chemicals than female fecundity. The women participants actually had greater exposure to the UV filters overall, but their exposure wasn’t associated with any significant pregnancy delays.”
Louis added, “Sunscreen is important for sun protection, and we definitely encourage people to continue using sunscreen to avoid skin cancer. But men who are concerned about fertility may be interested in other ways to reduce their exposure to benzophenone UV filters—whether by cutting back on other products that contain the UV filters or by washing after returning indoors.”