Beware! Plastics Affect Fertility
Plastic containers in various forms such as feeding bottles, sippers, tiffin boxes, storage containers, packets, and much more are in regular use in our day today life. Plastics are use throughout a man’s lifecycle – From birth to oldage. These plastics are purely made of chemicals. Can these chemicals interfere in fertility?
Now- a- days increased cases of infertility, PCOS, menstrual disturbances have been on the rise. It was reported that nearly 40% of all infertility cases have no apparent cause. This lead researchers to do more study in determine the cause so as to prevent the infertility issue. The study results were shocking! They said, there 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 has been shown to have a negative effect on the body’s immune system and even hormone regulation.
Most of the plastic dishes and storage containers are leaching chemicals into their food, especially if they’re using any hard plastic that’s “shatterproof.” These plastics contain Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that, once ingested, mimics estrogen in our bodies. BPA is gaining global attention as an environmental contaminant that impacts health owing to its widespread exposure and endocrine-disrupting properties, according to the researchers. An endocrine disruptor (also known as xenohormones) is a synthetic chemical that when absorbed into the body either mimics or blocks hormones and interferes with the body’s normal functions. Pesticides and herbicides have been blamed for the declining sperm count over the last 50 years. Did you know that herbicides and pesticides are also made from petroleum, the same raw ingredient used to manufacture BPA?
In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearly reported that BPA, a common chemical found in plastics showed both risk to male and female fertility, as well as the growth of unborn foetuses and growing children. According to a major study released by the American Society for Reproductive Health, Bisphenol A 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, 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 developmental problems in children.
BPA’s have also been linked to PCOS, Recurrent Miscarriages and has shown to affect FSH levels in men as well. I also would not be surprised to hear that BPA’s may have the same DNA damaging effect on sperm health as well.
Exposure to BPA has also been linked to a variety of cancers, attention deficit disorder in both children and adults and even diabetes.
Plastics Can Also Interfere With Invitro 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 invitro-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 invitro-fertilization failures among this group than in groups with lower BPA level in their bloodstream.
Studies in mouse have also indicated that BPA levels alter the DNA of eggs, and a 2010 study in humans demonstrated BPA urinary concentrations to be inversely associated with the number of eggs retrieved during an IVF cycle. Despite the limited evidence, a cautious approach for women who are considering IVF treatment would be to reduce their exposure to BPA through modifications in lifestyle and diet.
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 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:
- Stop drinking bottled water. The thin plastic bottle that the water is in leaches chemicals called xenohormones into the water. These xenohormones mimic estrogen in the body, causing there to be too much estrogen and not enough of the other important hormones (in men typically not enough testosterone to oppose the estrogen and in women not enough progesterone to oppose the estrogen).
- Some alternatives to drinking bottled water:
- Get a stainless steel or glass water bottle, or mason jars and fill them up at home.
- Be prepared, always have water with you.
- Buy water that is bottled in glass. “Mountain Springs” sells their water in glass bottles (the bottles are green), that is what we buy if we forget to bring our water with us.
- Avoid plastics made with BPA and certain types of plastics for food. Plastics used for food storage usually have a number code on the bottom, which will tell you what type of plastic it is. According to The Green Guide, it is best to avoid:
- Plastic #3: Polyvinyl chloride (also known as PVC or vinyl), which is found in a wide range of products, including some plastic wraps and food containers.
- Plastic #6: Styrene, which is found in Styrofoam products, such as take out containers, Styrofoam cups and egg cartons.
- Plastic #7: Polycarbonate, which is found in some sport water bottles, some baby bottles, toddler drinking cups, and 5-gallon water bottles
- 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. Store food in containers made of glass, ceramic or food-safe metal. If you do need to use plastic (it is almost impossible to avoid all plastic at this time in our society) choose plastics labeled #1 PETE, #2HDPE, #4LDPE or #5PP, which have lower potential health risks. If your community does not recycle these types of plastic, try to avoid them.
- Never reheat foods in plastic containers in the microwave – the heat can release even more toxins into your food
True, it is difficult 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.
- Avoid vinyl (PVC) shower curtains. Use curtains made of natural fibers, polyester or nylon instead. The heat from the shower causes the plastic shower curtains to leach chemicals, which are in turn inhaled by the bather.
- Eat an organic fertility diet. Pesticides and herbicides have a negative impact on egg health, sperm health and hormonal balance. The only way to avoid them is to eat organic. Some people say that organic is too expensive, but to me there is no choice. Please remember that these toxins will not only affect your fertility, but will also be passed on to your future child while you are pregnant and breastfeeding.
- Cleanse the body and support the liver in getting rid of xenohormones and toxins. We can not prevent the past exposures to these substances but you can help your body to get rid of them. Supporting the liver is a great first step as it is responsible for removing toxins from the body. Eating a healthy, clean fertility diet rich in fertility smoothies, greens and fresh juices is another way to help the body to cleanse itself.
- Protect and encourage egg and sperm health through diet, herbs and supplements.Preventing additional exposure to BPA, soft plastics, and pesticides and herbicides is a must, but so is nourishing, protecting and rebuilding from the inside. Diet plays a huge roll as does antioxidants which help to protect the DNA from damage.
Can I use BPA free Plastics?
It commissioned two independent labs to test 35 children’s sippy cups, and found that nine models labeled as BPA-free yielded moderate to high levels of estrogenic activity, meaning they contained chemicals that mimicked natural estrogen. Which specific chemicals were causing the estrogenic activity wasn’t determined, but some don’t think that makes much of a difference. “If you went into a space with a [radiation detection device] and found radiation, would you stop to take additional time to find out where the radiation was coming from? It wouldn’t matter—you’d just want to get out,” says George Bittner, founder of CertiChem, an endocrine disruptor testing lab based in Austin, Texas, that examined the sippy cups.
But the controversy raises the question of how much we really know about the safety of any type of plastic. “Until we have some idea of what chemicals are added in all stages in making a final product, we will not be able to determine the safety of any plastic product,” says vom Saal. For now, sticking to leach-free materials like glass or stainless steel as much as possible seems to be your best bet.
Uma Maheshwari PS
Dietitian, Happy Living Diet Clinic
+91 99000 46344