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Household plastics causing infertility?

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New research suggests that if you’re having trouble to conceive or have suffered a miscarriage, some common household products could be partly to blame.

Bisphenol A, (BPA) is a chemical used to make certain plastics and resins that are used in containers. BPA is also used in the coating of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines, according to the United States’ Food and Drug Administration. In some cases they have even found BPA in cash register receipts.

Phthalates are a group of chemicals that is used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. They are used in products such as cleaning detergents, beauty products and children’s toys. People are also exposed to phthalates by eating and drinking from containers containing them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is believed BPA may be responsible for a reduced sperm count

A particular study looked at 501 couples who were trying to get pregnant. The couples in the study were interviewed and examined. They provided urine samples to measure their BPA and phthalate levels. They were also asked to keep journals about intercourse, menstrual cycles and pregnancy tests.

Researchers found that the men with high phthalate concentrations experienced a 20% decline in fertility and took longer to get their partners pregnant than peers with lower concentrations.

Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors, meaning they interfere with our hormone systems according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.

They recommend that if a couple is having trouble to conceive, they should try to minimize the male’s exposure to phthalates.

The researchers go on by saying that Phthalates are anti-androgens, and other studies have shown that environmental levels of phthalates in infertile men correlate with increased rates of sperm DNA damage, low sperm counts and abnormal sperm.

Researchers say they don’t know why certain women in the study had higher BPA levels; they did not ask whether the women were doing specific things like leaving their plastic water bottles outside in the heat, something thought to increase BPA levels in the water dramatically.

It’s not routine to do BPA testing in patients who are struggling to carry a child to term, according to a fertility expert at the Reproductive Biology Associates in Atlanta, who was not involved in the research. But studies like this further highlight the impact the environment can have on fertility and miscarriage. It gives you one more thing to ask the patients about when you see unexplained miscarriages in patients.

Neither study showed an actual cause and effect, but there are ways to minimize exposure to BPA if parents are worried.

Lower your BPA and Phthalates intake

Experts advise against leaving plastic water bottles in the car, microwaving plastic containers, eating canned foods and touching paper receipts that contain BPA. The FDA also warns against putting very hot or boiling liquid in plastic containers made with BPA if you plan to consume the water. That’s because BPA levels rise in food when containers or products made with the chemical are heated and come in contact with the food, according to the agency. For that reason, the FDA also no longer allows BPA in plastic used to make baby bottles and toddler cups.

 

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