Should we be avoiding BPA? How does BPA affect hormones? Can BPA damage fertility?

BPA stands for Bisphenol-A, and it’s a substance found in many plastics. So should we be avoiding BPA while trying to conceive? While we all know that plastic isn’t a particularly healthy substance to eat or put on our skin, we have long trusted that our water bottles and other plastic packaging are safe to use. 

Recent research, however, has found that some types of plastic can leak certain chemicals into food, drink and even cosmetics and medicine. 

Can BPA affect hormones?

Scientists aren’t sure of the dangers of every single chemical in plastics, but BPA has been shown to be an endocrine disruptor. It affects the hormones in the body, either by mimicking them or stopping them from working properly. BPA mimics estrogen, and although it’s fairly weak, it has been shown to affect animals even at low levels. It can have a negative effect on pregnancy and fetal development in animals.

What is the effect of BPA in humans?

There have been no direct tests of BPA on human pregnancies because this would be unethical. Instead, scientists have measured the level of BPA in men with lower sperm motility, and in women who are undergoing IVF. In both cases, a correlation was found with higher BPA levels and fertility challenges. The studies are not conclusive and they were small, but they could show that BPA may be harmful to fertility. 

Avoiding BPA when trying for a baby

If you are hoping to get pregnant and it’s not happening very quickly, there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to support your fertility. You can improve your nutrition and fitness levels, reduce stress, improve your gut health, and start to avoid chemicals that may be toxic, such as BPA. While it’s impossible to say which lifestyle changes may or may not help you to get pregnant, supporting your fertility with healthy changes can help overall.

Avoiding BPA when you are undergoing IVF

While there does seem to be a link between BPA and the need for IVF, it’s important to remember that infertility can have many causes. Cutting out exposure to BPA could help some people, but it’s not a guarantee. 

How can I avoid BPA in plastics?
  • BPA is present in canned foods, so stick to fresh or frozen where possible
  • Don’t use plastic bowls to microwave food, and avoid ready-meals in plastic
  • Avoid takeaway dishes that come in plastic tubs
  • Makes sure any dental fillings are BPA free
  • Don’t re-use plastic bottles for water
  • Don’t use plastic bottles or containers that have recycle number 7 on them, as they are likely to contain BPA
  • Use a metal or glass bottle for your daily water
  • Avoid cosmetics such as body lotion that are stored in plastic bottles