BPA Exposure May Cause Infertility, Study Says

Brigham and Women's researchers linked high levels of BPA exposure to egg degeneration.

During the study, human eggs were affected by high levels of BPA exposure. Image provided.

During the study, human eggs were affected by high levels of BPA exposure. Image provided.

BPA, or Bisphenol-A, a compound used to make certain plastics and resins, is found in a variety of common consumer goods like water bottles, sports equipment, and even DVDs. But while it may seem common and harmless, Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers have named exposure to BPA as a contributing factor that could lead to infertility.

The study, which was published Wednesday in the journal Human Reproduction, examined 352 eggs from 121 patients at a fertility clinic. The eggs were exposed to varying levels of BPA in a laboratory setting, and those eggs were compared to an egg from each patient that was not exposed to BPA.

According to a report, the researchers discovered that BPA caused a decrease in the percentage of eggs that matured, an increase in the percentage of eggs that degenerated, and an increase in the percentage of eggs that underwent spontaneous activation, which is the abnormal process when an egg acts as though it has been fertilized even when it hasn’t been.

Researchers also found that the higher the levels of BPA exposure, the higher the likelihood of degeneration and spontaneous activation. These results are similar to previous research that was done in regards to BPA exposure on animal eggs, but this was the first study to use human eggs. In the report, Dr. Catherine Racowsky, the lead researcher, said:

“To our knowledge, this is the first study that has shown that BPA has a direct effect on egg maturation in humans. Because exposure to BPA is so ubiquitous, patients and medical professionals should be aware that BPA may cause a significant disruption to the fundamentals of the human reproductive process and may play a role in unexplained infertility.”

The FDA recently reduced the amount of BPA used in plastics that interact with food products because of the effects that high levels of BPA exposure can have on health. BPA can be found in the metal cans of canned foods, sports water bottles, baby bottles, sippy cups, and clear plastic food containers, among other things, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Although the FDA remains unconcerned about exposure to low levels of BPA, it is still a good idea to take steps to avoid the compound.