Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and the
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are found widespread in drinking water, foods, food packaging materials and other consumer products. Several PFAS have been identified as endocrine-disrupting chemicals based on their ability to interfere with normal reproductive function and hormonal signalling. Experimental models and epidemiologic studies suggest that PFAS exposures target the ovary and represent major risks for women’s health.

Clinical evidence demonstrates the presence of PFAS in follicular fluid and their ability to pass through the blood–follicle barrier. Although some studies found no evidence associating PFAS exposure with disruption in ovarian function, numerous epidemiologic studies, mostly with cross-sectional study designs, have identified associations of higher PFAS exposure with later menarche, irregular menstrual cycles, longer cycle length, earlier age of menopause and reduced levels of oestrogens and androgens.

Adverse effects of PFAS on ovarian folliculogenesis and steroidogenesis have been confirmed in experimental models. Based on laboratory research findings, PFAS could diminish ovarian reserve and reduce endogenous hormone synthesis through activating peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, disrupting gap junction intercellular communication between oocyte and granulosa cells, inducing thyroid hormone deficiency, antagonising ovarian enzyme activities involved in ovarian steroidogenesis or inhibiting kisspeptin signalling in the hypothalamus.