BPA and Infertility: What’s Really Going On?

BPA, or Biphensol A, has become the scourge of environmentalists and health advocates. And rightly so – the chemical has been used for over forty years and is found in nearly everything made of plastic. From bottles, to children’s toys, to the lining of tin cans and even the coating of sales receipts, this chemical was long considered safe by the FDA. Then studies started showing up proving the government wrong.

Just how does BPA harm you? As Time reported, “the chemical has been linked to neurological disorders, hormonal disruptions, cancer and genital abnormalities in newborn boys.” Now studies have turned their attention to its influence on fertility, as lab animals showed side effects such as infertility.

Ah, yes, fertility. It seems like you can’t open a web browser these days without someone wringing their hands over the state of women’s reproductive abilities. (We’ve previously discussed fertility drugs and misconceptions about this topic.) Do we really need another discussion over the state of women’s reproductive skills? Won’t someone think of the (unborn) children?

Based on the recent news out of medicine covering the dangerous effect of BPA on fertility – yes, we do. As Time reports, extensive studies were conducted in 2007 and 2008 at the University of San Francisco to see if BPA had an impact on fertility and IVF by studying women who were undergoing the procedure. It turns out, it does. Scientists think that BPA damages the quality of eggs in women. They found that higher blood levels of BPA, they found, were linked to a “50% reduction in normal fertilization of eggs after they were retrieved for IVF.”

Further, BPA may damage sperm. Via The Daily Green, Kaiser Permanente recently published a report that BPA can reduce sperm count and mobility in men. BPA mimics estrogen in the body which would account for its negative influence on sperm. Experts conclude that more studies will be necessary to look at this connection. But in the light of this evidence, one wonders why Congress recently refused to ban BPA from baby products.

The good news? While regulations seem to rise and fall regarding the permanent disuse of this chemical, people are starting to listen to its dangers. Even the government has released a warning on how to reduce you and your children’s exposure to the chemical.

And until BPA is banned permanently, there are some easy ways to avoid BPA. Lose the plastic bottles and containers in your home. And if you must go plastic, avoid plastics with recycling codes 3 and 7. They are more likely to contain BPA. Also, lose any plastic containers that are scratched. This is an easier route for the BPA to leech into your system.

Image: stevendepolo

Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.