Could Sunscreen Render You Infertile?

By HotlantaVoyeur (Flickr: DSC07066s) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

A recent study has discovered men who use sunscreen can be rendered infertile because it may disrupt their sperm cells. Nearly half of all the ingredients commonly used to block out the suns ultra-violet rays mimic the effects of the female hormone progesterone, which may stop a male’s sperm from functioning normally. Sunscreen can enter the bloodstream through being absorbed into the skin.

The Study

Niels Shakkebaek, a professor at the University of Copenhagen said the findings of the study were concerning and said, “These results are of concern and might explain in part why unexplained infertility is so prevalent.”

The professor and his team of colleagues tested 29 of the 31 UV filters present in sunscreens in the U.S. or the European Union on live, healthy human sperm cells, from semen samples obtained from many healthy male donors.

Nearly half of the UV filters acted as hormone disruptors. To test the effects of the chemicals on sperm cells, the team places the sperm samples in a solution that resembled the conditions in female fallopian tubes.

The researchers investigated a feature of sperm cells that is important to their function known as calcium ion channeling. They found a particular channel in a sperm cell that is actually a receptor for the female hormone progesterone.

When a sperm encounters progesterone, it leads to the calcium ions surging into the sperm cell which can prevent the egg from being fertilized.
Of the sunscreens tested, 13 of the tested UV filters, or 45 percent, disrupted vital sperm cell function such as the movement of the sperm cell.
Professor Skakkebaek stated, “This effect began at very low doses of the chemicals, below the levels of some UV filters found in people after whole-body application of sunscreens.”

Of the 13 filters, nine of them mimicked the effects of progesterone. The professor is calling for clinical studies to investigate whether chemical UV filters affect human fertility and if so, how.
He said, “Our study suggests that regulatory agencies should have a closer look at the effects of UV filters on fertility before approval.”

Some of the chemicals which have been approved for safe use, but have been found to disrupt sperm include: avobenzone, homosalate, meradimate, padimate, octisalate, octinoxate, oxybenzone and octocrylene.

As well as being used in sunscreens, these chemicals are also found in sunscreen containing personal care products like moisturizers, lip balms and make-up.
Although the purpose for chemical UV filters is to decrease the amount of sun exposure, some UV filters are quickly absorbed into the skin.

Conclusion to the Study

UV filter chemicals reportedly have been found in human blood samples and in 95 percent of urine samples in the U.S, Denmark and other countries. Previous research has found that oxybenzone, a common ingredient in sunscreens is toxic to coral reefs.


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