Bad news about birth control pills: they might keep you from getting pregnant/regulate your cycle/all that jazz, but they're causing reproductive problems in fish, who are picking up their chemical byproducts through sewage systems connected to waterways.

Reports the Washington Post:

A recent survey by the U.S. Geological Survey found that fish exposed to a synthetic hormone called 17a-ethinylestradiol, or EE2, produced offspring that struggled to fertilize eggs. The grandchildren of the originally exposed fish suffered a 30 percent decrease in their fertilization rate. The authors mulled the impact of what they discovered and decided it wasn't good.

"If those trends continued, the potential for declines in overall population numbers might be expected in future generations," said Ramji Bhandari, a University of Missouri assistant research professor and a visiting scientist at USGS. "These adverse outcomes, if shown in natural populations, could have negative impacts on fish inhabiting contaminated aquatic environments."

EE2, like BPA, bypasses water filtration systems—and your body's own filtration system, when you pee it out—so even though there are other measures in place to make sure that waste water is effectively cleaned before it's released into rivers and oceans, it can't catch the hormonal runoff, which, in turn, is getting to the fish.

Obviously, women abandoning contraception en masse remedy the situation is not going to happen; but maybe this is an opportunity for scientists and manufacturers to step their game up and build better systems to block these chemicals out—or better yet, devise a type of contraception that's equally good for the body and the environment.


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