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Fertility, pregnancy & endocrine disruptors: how to clear your life of BPA plastic

BPA plastic bottle

It is not news: BPA, phthalates, and other endocrine disruptors are some of the most dangerous chemicals out there when it comes to male and female fertility.

BPA & Phthalates are endocrine disruptors that are linked not only to decreased fertility in men and women, but also to increased risks of miscarriage, and pregnancy complications. They are also linked to cancer and to intellectual and emotional developmental complications in children. In other words this is stuff you DO NOT WANT in your life.

Exposure to bisphenol A, or BPA, may disrupt human reproduction and play a role in about 20 percent of unexplained infertility, said researchers from Harvard University.

BPA is known to disrupt the hormonal system, with the chemical acting like an artificial estrogen. There are many ways it can disrupt the hormonal system.

"The chemical is all throughout the environment", says Catherine Racowsky, director of the assisted reproductive technologies laboratory at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "It's almost impossible to avoid exposure to it. People need to be aware of the toxins in the environment and try to lead the healthiest life they can possibly lead," she said.

BPA, phthalates & female fertility

BPA has been extensively studied and shown to be extremely harmful to fertility. Yet, it is still everywhere around us.

BPA exposure reduces ovarian reserve

egg on a spoon

BPA exposure is associated with follicle loss [1]. It causes lower antral follicle counts , decreases oocyte (that's your egg cells) survival [2], and even significant loss of primordial follicles by reducing ovarian follicular reserves in F3 generation females [3]

"Exposure of eggs to BPA decreased the percentage of eggs that matured and increased the percentage of eggs that degenerated," said researcher Catherine Racowsky, director of the assisted reproductive technologies laboratory at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

BPA, phthalates & male fertility

It has been shown that BPA has adverse effects on the male reproductive system including a decreased sperm count, abnormal sperm motility and reduced reproductive organ weights.

BPA exposure decreases sperm count

sperm and a pregnancy test

BPA behaves as an androgen (male hormones) receptor antagonist, meaning it interrupts normal androgen receptor activity. Such effects could interfere with normal processes of spermatogenesis (the production of sperm cells), which are controlled by numerous endogenous hormones [4, 5]

Compared with men who do not have noticeable urine BPA levels, those with noticeable urine BPA have more than three times the chance of lowered sperm concentration and lower viability of sperm

BPA exposure increases oxidative stress in the testicles

Another relevant action by which endocrine disruptors negatively impact male sexual system is to break the balance between oxidants and antioxidants in testicular tissues. this brings about the development of oxidative stress and consequent harmful effect on spermatogenesis .

BPA exposure decreases sperm motility

A recent study led by De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California and published online October 28 in Fertility and Sterility compared 215 factory workers who were exposed to BPA in the workplace to a control group. Men who worked in the BPA-based factories had

  • more than four times the chance of having lowered sperm counts

  • more than double the risk of having lower sperm motility (swimming ability)

How to reduce exposure with food choices

  • Ditch canned & packaged foods

  • Choose organic fresh, frozen or dried food substitutes

  • If you cannot avoid foods in BPA-lined cans, rinsing the food in water may help lower the level of BPA in the food.

  • Do not EVER microwave plastic even if it says microwave safe

  • Switch your plastic coffee maker for a French press. (although if you are trying to conceive, stop the caffeine habit entirely, read our article here to know why)

  • Filter your drinking water

A recent study from the Breast Cancer Fund and the Silent Spring Institute, a non-profit organization that studies the links between environmental chemicals and women’s health, examined the levels of BPA in a small group of San Franciscans.

After spending just three days on all-fresh, organic diet, the participants had 66% less BPA in their urine. When they returned to their regular diets, their BPA levels went back up.

Don’t rely on “microwave-safe” claims either. When the Journal Sentinel, a newspaper from Milwaukee, Wisc., had 10 different “microwave-safe” plastic containers tested in a lab, they found that BPA was leaching in all of them.

How to reduce exposure with non-toxic household items

Food containers

  • Replace pre-2011 baby bottles, sippy cups, water bottles and other hard, clear plastic food storage containers.

  • Throw away cracked or scratched plastic containers.

  • Use glass or unlined stainless steel water bottles.

  • Keep plastic containers labeled with a 1, 2 or 5; they do not contain BPA or other plastic chemicals of concern.

  • Dispose of plastic containers labeled with a 7 inside the recycle symbol. Although not all 7 plastics contain BPA, it’s not easy to tell which contain BPA and which don’t.

Cashier receipts

  • Wash your hands after handling receipts

  • Consider putting gloves on before handling a lot of receipts

Self care products : lower phthalates exposure

  • Get rid of your vinyl shower curtain.

  • Throw away any personal care items or cleaning items that contain “fragrance” or “parfum”

be safe!

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1. Souter I., Smith K.W., Dimitriadis I., Ehrlich S., Williams P.L., Calafat A.M., Hauser R. The association of bisphenol-A urinary concentrations with antral follicle counts and other measures of ovarian reserve in women undergoing infertility treatments. Reprod. Toxicol. 2013;42:224–231. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2013.09.008. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]

2. Brieno-Enriquez M.A., Robles P., Camats-Tarruella N., Garcia-Cruz R., Roig I., Cabero L., Martinez F., Caldes M.G. Human meiotic progression and recombination are affected by bisphenol A exposure during in vitro human oocyte development. Hum. Reprod. 2011;26:2807–2818. doi: 10.1093/humrep/der249. [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]

3. Manikkam M., Tracey R., Guerrero-Bosagna C., Skinner M.K. Plastics derived endocrine disruptors (BPA, DEHP and DBP) induce epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of obesity, reproductive disease and sperm epimutations. PLoS ONE. 2013;8 doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055387.[PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]

[4] Wetherill YB, Akingbemi BT, Kanno J, McLachlan JA, Nadaf A, Sonnenschein C, Watson CS, Zoeller RT, Belcher SM. In vitro molecular mechanisms of bisphenol A action. Reproductive Toxicology. 2007;24:178–198. DOI: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2007.05.010

[5] Nakamura D, Yanagiba Y, Duan Z, Ito Y, Okamura A, Asaeda N, Tagawa Y, Li C, Taya K, Zhang SY, Naito H, Ramdhan DH, Kamijima M, Nakajima T. Bisphenol A may cause testosterone reduction by adversely affecting both testis and pituitary systems similar to estradiol. Toxicology Letters. 2010;194:16–25. DOI: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2010.02.002


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