No matter where we look, there is a piece of plastic vying for our attention. Maybe it is keeping our food wrapped in the refrigerator, or maybe it contains the water we drink all day long, or maybe it is the container we reheat out lunch in at work. Wait! Could all that plastic be affecting your fertility? Maybe, warn some fertility researchers.
In a research study conducted by Dr. David Lindsay, of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Monash University, Melbourne Australia, it was reported that nearly 40% of all infertility cases have no apparent cause – or at least one that is currently detectable. That alarming statistics has sent researchers on a type of scavenger hunt, looking for previously unknown causes of infertility to help correct this ever-growing problem among the world’s childrearing population.
One theory, leading researchers to more study, is the possibility that an increase in plastics use in everyday lifestyles could be a contributing factor, causing an increase of infertility worldwide. After all, most plastics contain toxic chemicals that have been shown to have a negative effect on the body’s immune system and even hormone regulation.
In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearly reported that BPA, a common chemical found in plastics posed no health risks to the general population. Months later, they recanted that statement when further research was unveiled which clearly showed both risk to male and female fertility, as well as the growth of unborn fetuses and growing children.
According to a major study released by the American Society for Reproductive Health, released at their annual meeting in November, 2008, Bisphenol A (more commonly referred to as BPA), can – and does – inhibit the embryos ability to attach to the uterine lining. This failure to implant causes an early onset miscarriage even before the patient knows she is pregnant.
In addition, Dr. Luisine Aghajanova, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco claims that “BPA can interfere with the development of uterine cells and the way they change in preparation for possible pregnancy.” This can make it even more difficult for a woman to conceive.
Even more startling are reports that clearly show that BPA can keep cells from dividing properly, which could inhibit pregnancy; cause birth defects, and contribute developmental problems in children.
Exposure to BPA has also been linked to a variety of cancers, attention deficit disorder in both children and adults, and even diabetes.
How Plastics Can Thwart In Vitro Efforts
While BPA exposure can cause infertility among women, there is another concern amongst the fertility industry. It also seems to have a dramatic effect on how successful in vitro fertilization is. In one study, nearly 93% of the women undergoing the treatment had measurable amounts of BPA in their systems as did 81% of their partners. This has led researchers to link a higher level of in vitro fertilization failures among this group than in groups with lower BPA level in their bloodstream. This of course, has left new questions to be studied as to the effects of BPA and other chemicals found in plastics may have on both natural fertility and on the ability to conceive using modern technological methods.
Reducing Your Risks
Although still being studied, the effect of plastics in everyday use on our fertility is causing alarm among the world’s fertility researchers. Until more is known about the phenomenon, many fertility specialists are urging their patients to avoid plastics as much as possible. To help decrease your risk of associated exposure, be sure to:
* Buy meat (free-range or organic) and produce in bulk packages (not wrapped in plastics) and when you do purchase plastic covered foods, remove them as soon as you get home and rewrap them in safer coverings.
* Never store leftovers in plastics containers or bags
* Never reheat foods in plastic containers in the microwave – the heat can release even more toxins into your food
* Never drink from a plastic bottle. Instead, fill a non-BPA bottle with filtered water from your home and carry it with you.
True, it is difficult to isolate yourself from exposure to plastics in a world where plastics are used in just about everything. However, if you can limit your food and beverage exposure to these dangerous chemicals, you can help to keep your own BPA levels low.
For more information on the effects of BPA and other plastics on your overall health and fertility, check out the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at ww.nihs.gov.
- Environmental Causes of Infertility. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://chem-tox.com/infertility/index.htm
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.niehs.nih.gov/
- Reinberg, S. (n.d.). Chemical in Plastics May Cause Fertility Problems. Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/13/AR2008111303289.html