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Effects of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals on the Ovary.

ABSTRACT

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are found abundantly in the environment, resulting in daily human exposure. This is of concern because many EDCs are known to target the female reproductive system and, more specifically, the ovary. In the female, the ovary is the key organ responsible for reproductive and endocrine functions. Exposure to EDCs is known to cause many reproductive health problems such as infertility, premature ovarian failure, and abnormal sex steroid hormone levels. Some EDCs and their effects on adult ovarian function have been studied extensively over the years, whereas the effects of others remain unclear. This review covers what is currently known about the effects of selected EDCs (bisphenol A, methoxychlor, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, phthalates, and genistein) on the adult ovary and the mechanisms by which they act upon the ovary, focusing primarily on their effects on folliculogenesis and steroidogenesis. Furthermore, this review discusses future directions needed to better understand the effects of EDCs, including the need to examine the effects of multiple and more consistent doses and to study different mechanisms of action.