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Photo: Instagram/@reedmorano

There’s a reason The Handmaid’s Tale was such an explosive hit this year.

Sure, the book-turned-Hulu-series evokes all kinds of feelings of eerie familiarity and dark foreboding. But it also brings up some scary thoughts of “Could this happen IRL?”

A little back story: The tale takes place in a fictional future world where environmental factors and lifestyles have made it so only a select few—the handmaids—are able to get pregnant. So the government seizes control of the women’s bodies which, TBH, sounds a little familiar these days.

Now (sorry to add fuel to the dumpster fire), a new study published in Reproductive Toxicology has found that persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are wreaking a bit of havoc on reproductive organs and fertility.

While the study seems to spell doom and gloom, there are a few things to keep in mind.

The study authors explain that “persistent organic pollutants (POPs) were extensively employed for myriad industrial and consumer applications, although concerns about their toxicity and propensity to bioaccumulate in lipids led to global restrictions in their use and manufacture over the past few decades.”

In other words, environmental factors are, in fact, making it harder for some women to get pregnant.

The study looked at data collected from 32 women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), and found that increased exposure to POPs had adverse effects on the success of IVF.

While the study seems to spell doom and gloom, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the fact that the women in the study were undergoing IVF means they had some pre-existing fertility issues. Second, the study only looked at 32 women, which is a fairly small representation. Finally, the study authors acknowledged that this was just a pilot study, and that “these results will require confirmation in a more definitive future study.”

So while the world isn’t exactly at widespread-infertility-destroying-governments stage, this might serve as a friendly reminder that being kind to the Earth is being kind to yourself.

If you’re thinking about your fertility, here’s how sunscreen could be messing with it—and FYI there’s a massage made for you

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