The Truth about BPA and Fertility
This is not a call to start running to your cupboards and throwing out all your plastic containers. This blog is meant to provide you with the information and education you need going forwards on your fertility journey.
Before I start, I wanted to mention that I myself have felt panicked about fertility and wondering if I've hurt my chances of getting pregnant. However, it is great to know that damage to egg quality does NOT accumulate over our years of life, but is most important in the months before ovulation and attempts to get pregnant. This is the time period during which a few follicles in the ovary start to mature, and chromosomes are replicated. If this process goes awry, you can develop eggs with poor quality and chromosomal abnormalities.
BPA, or bisphenol A is a chemical which is used in a wide variety of products which are still on the market. This includes:
Reusable plastic food containers
Plastic water bottles
Plastic tea kettles
Highly processed or canned foods*
Paper receipts are thermal coated in BPA
*These products although do not necessarily contain BPA, are more likely to be exposed to it because manufacturers and processing factories often make use of large plastic containers to store these ingredients.
BPA is a known reproductive toxin, and in research has been linked to poor egg quality and implantation as well as poor fertility outcomes, even in those undergoing IVF (in-vitro fertilization) [1,2]. This is because it is an endocrine-disrupting chemical and can mimic estrogen in the body . For this reason, even individuals undergoing hormone therapy for IVF-cycles can have impacted ovarian stimulation and lower levels of estrogen (due to negative feedback from the estrogen-mimicking BPA).
It is important to keep in mind that the women in this research were separated into different groups based on their BPA exposure, and it was only those in the highest quartile of exposure who had negative fertility outcomes . This means that instead of completely avoiding BPA, perhaps simply lowering exposure could be enough.
What's Folate Got to Do with It?
Something else to note is that when these women consumed folate through whole foods, this seemed to cancel out the effects of BPA on fertility. Consuming at least 400 micrograms of folate through food per day had a higher chance of implantation and clinical pregnancy . This includes foods such as:
· Leafy green vegetables (arugula, kale, spinach)
· Broccoli and Brussels sprouts
· Beans and lentils (chickpeas, kidney beans)
· Citrus fruit (oranges, grapefruit)
Not to mention that folate is important during pregnancy for healthy formation of the baby’s brain. One caveat is that it is not thoroughly researched as to whether folate is protective for BPA exposure during pregnancy and prevention of miscarriage.
The Bottom Line
Hopefully this blog has given you the confidence to be more aware of BPA exposure in your life. Even plastic products that claim to be "BPA-free" can contain sisters of BPA such as bisphenol-S, which can actually contribute similarly to fertility outcomes as BPA. Instead, look for products which are either glass, stainless steel or have polypropylene (PP or "number 5), or high-density polyethylene (HDPE or "number 2"). If you handle receipts on a daily basis, make sure to wash your hands when you return home.
The goal is to not completely cut out all BPA in your life but to find manageable solutions to decrease your BPA exposure based on where you find you might be exposing yourself the most! If you have any questions, comment them down below, or reach out to me directly!
Yours in health,
Dr. Arlene Dubier
ND | Birth Doula 🌻
Pivonello, C., Muscogiuri, G., Nardone, A., Garifalos, F., Provvisiero, D.P., Verde, N. et al. (2020). Bisphenol A: an emerging threat to female fertility, Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. 18:22
Minguez-Alarcon, L., Messerlian, C., Bellavia, A., Gaskin, A., Chiu, Y., Ford, J. et al. (2019). Urinary concentrations of bisphenol A, parabens and phthalate metabolite mixtures in relation to reproductive success among women undergoing in-vitro fertilization, Environment International. 126, 355-362.
Lazurova, Z. & Lazurova, I. (2013). The environmental estrogen bisphenol A and its effects on the human organism, Vnitr Lek. 59(6), 466-471.
Minguez-Alarcon, L., Gaskins, A.J., Chiu, Y., Souter, I., Williams, P.L., Calafat, A., Hauser, R., & Chavarro, J. (2016). Dietary folate intake and modification of the association of urinary bisphenol A concentrations with in vitro fertilization outcomes among women from a fertility clinic, Reproductive Toxicology. 65, 104-112.