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BPAs Have Adverse Effect on IVF Treatment

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BPA and Fertility

BPA (Bisphenol A) is a chemical used to make some hard plastics and resins like the ones that coat food and drink cans. BPA has been linked to a range of health issues including breast cancer and liver abnormalities, and problems with brain and hormone development in fetuses and children. Twenty-seven bills have been introduced at the state level in 2013 that provide legislation regarding the use of BPA. In April, the California Environmental Protection Agency announced that the state will identify BPA as a reproductive toxicant.

Dr. Victor Fujimoto, Director of the UCSF In Vitro Fertilization Program, in San Francisco, CA, has studied the effects of BPA on reproductive capability. His 2011 study determined that exposure to BPA may compromise the quality of a woman’s eggs retrieved for IVF. As blood levels of BPA doubled, the percentage of eggs that fertilized normally declined by 50 percent.

A later study from the Harvard School of Public Health confirmed Fujimoto’s findings as well as the negative effects of BPA on embryo implantation and pregnancy outcomes.

According to Fujimoto, it’s not clear why or how BPA causes such profound negative effects on human eggs, but that is the focus of upcoming research that is pending funding. “It is imperative that we study the follicular fluid and cells surrounding the human [egg] to understand the mechanism that is causing this alarming effect,” Fujimoto says. “Our best guess at this point is that BPA is acting through estrogen receptors within the human follicle, along with the uterine environment, to create these negative effects.” Fujimoto explains that BPA can cause endocrine disruptive effects and can inhibit natural estrogen production from human ovarian follicles.

BPA has a short half-life as it is quickly metabolized by the liver, but other toxins end up stored long-term in our bodies within our fat cells, slowly discharging over our lifetimes, Fujimoto says.

It is hard to completely avoid BPA and other environmental toxins, but it is important for all women, and particularly those who are trying to get pregnant, to limit exposure. Fujimoto offers these tips:

  • Avoid processed foods, specifically those contained in aluminum and tin cans, as well as other containers which have BPA in the lining such as cardboard containers having fluids.
  • Eat organically whenever possible to avoid pesticide-exposed vegetables and fruits which can also act as endocrine disruptors.

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