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Dr. Matt Dorsey, DACM, LAc

Tales of the T: How Plastics Can Alter Your Genitals

Dr. Shanna Swan, PhD–a leading environmental and reproductive epidemiologist–has been issuing dire warnings about the fertlity and testosterone crises for over fifteen years.

In an episode of the Joe Rogan Podcast (embedded below), Dr. Swan goes into excruciating detail on just what we’re doing to ourselves with all the plastic were accidentally eating, drinking, and even breathing (hint: it’s not good).

In particular, she has studied the effects of phthalates on testosterone, fertility, and genital development.


Also called ‘plasticizers’, Phthalates are testosterone-disrupting chemicals that are used to enhance the durability of plastics.  According to the Environmental Working Group (a non-profit that does excellent work exposing the dangers of environmental toxins) phthalates easily penetrate the skin and can even trigger “death-inducing signaling” in testicular cells, forcing them to self-destruct prematurely.

Incidentally, EWG was instrumental in getting phthalates removed from many children’s toys, but these noxious endocrine disruptors are still found all over the place.

Phthalates can be found in:


Thanks to Dr. Swan, it’s now proven that phthalates not only disrupt hormones like testosterone, but that they can also alter the development of genitals in humans.  This is inferred by measuring what’s called AGD, which stands for ‘Anogenital Distance’, which is essentially the distance between the anus and the scrotum.

AGD is known to be directly affected by the presence or absence of testosterone, and is considered permanent.  Shorter AGD, which results from disruption of normal testosterone levels during fetal development, is permanent and strongly associated with reproductive deficiency.  

In the podcast, Dr. Swan had the following to say:

I took a whole population of pregnant women, and I got their urine, and measured their phthalates, got their kids, and measured their kids.  So then I had the problem of what to measure in the kids because nobody had made this translation from an animal genital developmental system to a human…”

So, at the time that she was first introduced to the problem of phthalate syndrome, there was only animal research.  Dr. Swan then had to figure out how to study the issue in humans:

…and then we showed that the mothers’ phthalates did alter the genitals of the boys…that was 2005, and then we published some more in 2008.  Fortunately I got money to do it all again…The second time, I did it better because I really knew what I was looking for, and I got urine in three points in pregnancy, and I measured the kids exactly when they’re born, so everything was much more presise, and I found it again.

So now there’s no question–I don’t think anyone questions–that at least this class of chemicals which we know lower testosterone, alter the develoment of these boys.”

She then goes on to discuss the connection between testosterone, phthalates, and sperm count. It’s alarming to say the least.

I highly recommend watching this video, but if you’d like to dig deeper on the chemical endocrine disruptor problem, you will likely enjoy my article, Hormones Under Fire: Worse Living Through Chemistry.

You may also want to check out Dr. Swan’s book, “Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race”.

This is a massive topic that bears far more exploration.  Stay tuned to this series for more updates, and enjoy the video:


Dr. Matt Dorsey, DACM, LAc

CHOQ Chief Product Officer

Matt Dorsey is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, medical herbalist, clinical nutritionist, and supplement industry veteran. As our Chief Product Officer, he heads product development and relies on his extensive training to ensure that our supplements are safe and effective.