BPA Could Mess With Your IVF Success

Yet another reason to avoid bisphenol A (BPA)—especially if you're struggling with infertility.

Laboratory microscopic research of IVF (in vitro fertilization) vchal/Shutterstock
BPA has earned itself a bad reputation, with manufacturers of all kinds scrambling to remove the stuff from their products. Now, in addition to its possible carcinogenic properties, ability to mess with your hormones and destruction to the environment, it seems the chemical could also harm your chances of having a baby.

Exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) could reduce the quality of your embryos, according to new research, which has discovered the compound could increase the death rate of of embryos and could also cause a decrease in the frequency of implantation, pregnancy and live birth rates. Therefore, BPA exposure could hinder your chances of conceiving via IVF.

"The study, published by Jorge Chavarro at Harvard University, substantiates my lab's work on BPA and confirms a number of prior findings," Fred vom Saal, Ph.D., an endocrinologist who has studied BPA's adverse effects for 20 years, said. "Dr. Chavarro and his team studied the effects of BPA on embryos in females undergoing in vitro fertilization and confirmed a number of prior findings. In science, when there are multiple, independent confirmations, then the scientific community accepts the findings, so this is a substantial turning point in the study of BPA and IVF."

This is bad news: BPA is used in countless products (think water bottles and food containers) and we've all certainly exposed ourselves to it throughout the course of our lives. But if you're undergoing IVF treatments in an attempt to get pregnant, BPA exposure should be carefully avoided.

"Previous studies have shown that BPA damages both sperm and eggs; these results have been demonstrated in both animals and humans," vom Saal said. "The findings by Chavarro and colleagues show that the probability of having a surviving embryo goes from more than 50 percent to under 20 percent as levels of BPA increase. Nearly 20 years after my lab and others reported the first adverse reproductive effects in animals, BPA has finally begun to be identified as a reproductive toxicant by authorities. As findings continue to mount and confirm that daily exposure to BPA is a reproductive toxicant, it becomes vital to regulate and control this chemical."

So how does one avoid BPA? It's not easy, considering approximately 7.7 million tons of the chemical are produced every year. We suggest taking small but significant steps to reduce your exposure: Only drink from BPA-free water bottles, select food storage containers that are free of the stuff, don't use plastic utensils, avoid canned food and touching store receipts. You may want to chow down on tofu and edamame, too, as soy was recently found to help offset the harmful effects of BPA on fertility.

More: 8 Household Products to Avoid When TTC