Bisphenol A; a common hormone disruptor that may be impacting your fertility

Although regulatory agencies continue to debate the impact that chemical compounds have upon our health; endocrinologists and healthcare providers express growing concern about their impact. Currently there are about 80,000 commercially produced chemicals in the USA with about a 1000 new ones added each year. Many of these substances are classified as “hormone disrupting agents because of their ability to trigger hormone imbalance. Yet only about 5% of these have been tested for their impact upon our reproductive function. One of the chemicals that is produced in the largest quantities is the plasticizing agent called Bisphenol A (BPA).

BPA is so pervasive that we’re exposed to it through the foods we eat, the water drink, and the products that we apply to our skin. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 95% of us have measureable levels of this hormone-disrupting chemical in our body. In fact most of us are regularly receiving doses of BPA that are 20 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agencies target of acceptable daily 

intake (50 mcg/Kg). This level of BPA exposure has been linked to hormone changes that can promote obesity as well as increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.  Finally, we’re beginning to understand how BPA can impact fertility in people.

Although it has long been known that this common hormone disrupting agent can impair fertility in animals; there was an absence of studies confirming this in people; until now.  A recent study has now confirmed that a majority of women undergoing IVF treatment have measureable levels of BPA in their urine. Worse still, women with higher BPA levels were able to produce fewer eggs that were also of poorer quality. As a fertility specialist that sees a growing number of women with unexplained decline in their ovarian reserve, I recommend that you don’t wait for additional proof. Here are some steps you can begin taking today to reduce any further impact of BPA upon your health and your fertility:

  • Switch to BPA free drinking bottles like those with a #5 stamped on them or use either glass or metal instead;
  • Purchase soups and foods packaged in cardboard cartons or glass instead of the plastic lined cans;
  • Hand wash plastic dishware with mild soap in warm water instead of using dishwashers for these products;
  • Don’t place plastic ware in microwave ovens to warm;
  • Express your support to companies that are voluntarily phasing out the use of BPA in their products.

4 thoughts on “Bisphenol A; a common hormone disruptor that may be impacting your fertility

  1. 1.

    Dr. Greene,

    I wanted to know what are the most basic blood tests or lab work up we can ask our primary care docs to rule out immune problems. I also wonder why I only got pregnant once after being off all birth control for 10 yrs (since I was 37). I know its harder to get pregnant 30+ or older. I had one pregnancy and m/c at 8 weeks. all the testing Ive had discovered nothing conclusive. I will soon get testing for a suspected septate problem..but I also want to know what basic testing I can do to r/o immune problems. I had a saline u/s a year ago that detected no septate..but a recent u/s when I had a FET detected a septate with my last pregnancy (that ended in blighted ovum). THis FET was from embryos not biologically related to me.
    Any info about immune testing that insurance could cover (screening) is welcome!

    1. Dear Ann,
      My recommendation would be that you not request a nonspecialist to review/assess immunologic factors that may be contributing to fertility problems. The reason I feel this way is that these are very complex issues and should be managed by those that understand them. Even amongst fertility specialists there is no universal agreement on the best way to assess or treat these problems when they occur. If you’re undergoing FET, I would assume that you’ve already consulted with a board certified reproductive endocrinologist. If you have and you were not comfortable with their response to your request; then it may be best to consider seeking a second opinion. I’d be more than happy to review your history and discuss the various tests that may be appropriate but you’d be best served by getting an assessment by someone whom you’d be willing to follow up with if you like their recommendation. Does that make sense? Please let me know if I may be of further assistance to you.
      Best thoughts,

      Robert Greene, MD, FACOG
      Medical Director
      SIRM–Northern California

  2. Hi Dr. Greene! A few months back, in addition to tossing a landfill’s worth of tainted plastic, I purged my pantry of canned foods and soon found myself missing all those conveniently pre-soaked and pre-cooked legumes that I had relied on for quick, healthy meals. The ONLY company I could find that guarantees BPA-free cans for their products is Eden, which is carried in Whole Foods and most grocery stores. Even they haven’t figured out how to can acidic foods like tomato-based soups, etc. without the BPA lining, so those have to be bought in vac-seal boxes or jars (although I wonder what that white plastic disk inside the metal jar lid is made of…), or made from scratch. Thanks for your insights, and letting me share! – Kat

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