Are Plastics Affecting your Fertility?
We live in a sea of plastic, have a look around how many items can you see that are made of plastic? Everywhere you look and everything you do these days involves plastic – from the packaging our food comes in, to water bottles, toys and electrical devises – everything contains plastic. Could all this plastic be affecting your fertility? The research is suggesting a big YES.
“The dramatic increase in exposures to toxic chemicals over the last four decades is threatening human reproduction and health” - The International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics
There are close to 800 environmental chemicals that are known or suspected to be capable of inferring with our hormones but only a small percentage of these 800 chemicals have actually been tested. Chemicals that are able to infer with our hormones are referred to as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC). This group of chemicals is large but includes dioxins, phthalates, solvents, organochemicals and bisphenol A.
The most well-known compound found in plastic is bisphenol-A (BPA).
Where is it found?
BPA is found in hard, see through plastics including plastic bottles, plastic food containers, glad wrap, dummies, toys and cash register receipts. Dental fillings have replaced nasty mercury with BPA containing compounds - they are just as bad as each other! While tin food, soft drink cans and coffee cup lids also contain BPA which leaches into the food and liquid stored in them.
Why is it sketchy?
BPA is oestrogenic meaning that it acts like oestrogen within the body which is not good for either males or females. It is also anti-androgen and therefore blocks testosterone production. A Japanese study found that women with polycystic ovarian syndrome had higher blood levels of BPA when compared to women without polycystic ovarian syndrome.
In women, BPA can also reduce the chances of successful IVF by interfering with egg quality. Recent studies have found that there is an inverse relationship between BPA concentrations in the body and normal fertilisation. While another study found that the higher the BPA levels detected in the urine of women undergoing IVF the lower the number of eggs retrieved5.
High BPA levels have also been linked to ovarian dysfunction, infertility, ovarian cysts, breast cancer and recurrent miscarriage. For our daughters high BPA levels within the body can cause early puberty.
For the Fellas
BPA block testosterone production, and testosterone is so important in the production and maturation of sperm. Therefore, high BPA levels in men has a huge impact on semen parameters and has shown to:
- Decrease sperm concentration
- Decrease total sperm count
- Decrease sperm vitality
- Decrease sperm motility
- Cause erectile dysfunction and
- Contribute to poor IVF outcomes
Other studies have linked BPA to metabolic syndrome, obesity, memory and cognitive disorders, depression and anxiety in both men and women.
If the affect of BPA on your fertility wasn’t scary enough, BPA is passed from the mother to baby as studies on the cord blood of newborn babies show on average 200 different chemicals found in the baby with BPA being one of them.
Are BPA free plastics the answer? Unfortunately, no! Often products labelled BPA free have had BPA replaced with BPS or BPF which are similar to BPA in that they are EDC’s and are toxic. So, the best way to stop plastics threatening your fertility is to avoid them as much as possible.
Using BPA free products is a good start but remember – “there are more chemicals than just BPA in plastic”
How to avoid IT?
In this day and age avoiding plastic seems impossible and when you think about it, it pretty much is. Hit me up if you have managed to be 100% plastic free I want to know your tips. But saying that, just by making a few small changes can make a huge impact on your exposure to plastic chemicals and your reproductive health. Below are a few ways in which you can avoid the perils of plastic. Checkout my top 10 below:
- Drink out of glass or steel water bottles – my favourites are Cheeki, Tanka, Fressko, Voss
- Use glass containers - store your food and leftovers in Pyrex, mason jars or Glasslock. If glass lunchboxes are not practical then look at metal lunchboxes
- Never heat food or liquids in plastic
- Avoid tinned food – eat fresh, frozen or eat in season
- Say ‘no thanks’ to cash register receipts
- When buying pasta sauce, vegetables, soup etc. opt for glass jars over cans
- Avoid drinks that come in aluminium cans choose drinks from glass bottles instead
- Ditch the take away coffee cups, why not bring your own glass keep cup from home? Most cafes offer a discount on your coffee if you bring your own cup – winning!
- Take it back to nature with a bamboo toothbrush and ditch that old plastic one
- If you do have to drink out of plastic, only use it once
Have you managed to ditch the plastic?
Tell me all about it by leaving a comment below. I love reading your comments!