By now, you have probably heard about the negative health effects of BPA (Bisphenol A). If you want the best possible chance of becoming pregnant and having a healthy baby, one of the first steps you should take is reducing your exposure to toxins that can impede the process. BPA, in particular, has been proven to negatively effect egg quality and overall fertility. BPA is commonly used in everything from paper receipts to plastic food containers. It has been shown that even tiny amounts of BPA can disrupt hormones, harm developing eggs and semen quality, compromise success rates in IVF and increase chances of a miscarriage. In fact, the adverse health effects of BPA are so well known, that many companies have now labeled their products as “BPA free,” which tempts people to continue using plastic products. Instead, these companies are replacing BPA with BPS (Bisphenol S), which shares a high degree of structural similarity to BPA, raising the same health concerns as BPA. It is essential to understand that the “BPA-free” label is a better option when buying products, but avoiding plastics altogether should be a priority since government regulation is not yet in place. The good news is that you can easily reduce your exposure to these dangerous chemicals once you know how.
How is BPA affecting your fertility? One study discovered that egg development is particularly sensitive to BPA. It was found that high exposure levels shortly before ovulation was enough to stop development of some eggs and cause severe chromosomal abnormalities in others. BPA is known as an “endocrine disruptor” because it disrupts the hormonal systems responsible for fertility. One of the most important hormones in female fertility is estrogen. BPA mimics estrogen so much, that in 1936, it was originally identified as a synthetic estrogen that pharmaceutical companies were planning to use for hormone replacement therapy! A short time later, BPA was replaced by even stronger chemicals for that purpose. BPA disrupts not only estrogen in our bodies, but testosterone, thyroid hormones and insulin; all of which are vitally important to egg development and overall fertility.
So, how do you avoid BPA since it’s so prominent in today’s world? Here are a few simple steps to rapidly decrease the amount of BPA in your system. It’s never too late to start taking care of your body, but it is important that you start these steps at least 3-4 months before trying to conceive. Let’s start in your kitchen.
- plastic food storage containers
- plastic bowls
- plastic cups
Replace with glass, wood, ceramic or stainless steel. If you choose to continue using plastic ware, please be advised that it is vitally important to avoid plastic in contact to hot foods, washing in hot water, washing with harsh detergent or heating in the microwave.
Other places to avoid BPA:
- automatic coffee machines (use a French press instead or avoid altogether)
- canned food (it’s best to find either fresh, frozen, dried or food in glass jars)
- receipts of all kinds such as from the grocery store, movie theater, airport and most retail stores
Studies have shown that retail employees have high amounts of BPA in their systems. The BPA from the receipts is absorbed through the skin and into the blood stream. It’s best to handle receipts as little as possible.
There are many factors that contribute to your reproductive health and BPA is just one of them. Making a habit out the suggestions I’ve listed should be sufficient in lowering your BPA levels and increasing your egg quality, sperm quality and chances of having a successful pregnancy. Stay tuned for more information on other chemicals to avoid in your home and as a consumer. Best of luck in your journey!