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BPA Can Damage Fertility, Egg Quality in Women


On the heels of research showing that bisphenol A (BPA) can harm male fertility, a new study finds evidence that the chemical can damage egg quality and fertility in women. As the level of BPA in women rises, the percentage of eggs capable of being fertilized declines.

Eggs retrieved for in vitro fertilization (IVF) were affected

Preliminary findings from the study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) indicate that BPA can have a negative impact on a woman’s reproductive health. In the study, investigators found that among women undergoing IVF at the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health, as the blood levels of BPA doubled, the percentage of eggs that would fertilize normally declined by half.

BPA, a chemical that makes plastics clear and hard, can be found in an increasing number of consumer products, ranging from the lining of food and beverage containers to water bottles, dental sealants, and food storage containers, and on register receipts and paper money. This hormone-disrupting substance has been shown to worsen male sexual function, possibly make girls more aggressive, and affect fertility in children, among other harmful effects.

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Victor Y. Fujimoto, MD, the study’s lead author and professor in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, and a faculty member at UCSF Center for Reproductive Health, points out that their findings emphasize “the importance of allocating more funding to further investigate why such environmental contaminants might be disrupting fertility potential.”

The UCSF study included 26 women undergoing IVF who were also evaluated for the impact of exposure to toxins on reproductive health. A recent study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital found that BPA concentrations in urine had a negative impact on the number of eggs retrieved during an IVF cycle.

Thus far the evidence that BPA can damage egg quality and fertility in women is preliminary. However, Fujimoto suggested “a cautious approach for women who are considering IVF treatment would be to reduce their exposure to BPA through modifications in lifestyle and diet.” The UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment offers an online resource called Toxic Matters to help consumers reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals.

Fujimoto VY et al. Fertility and Sterility doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2010.1.008