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Plastics and Pregnancy, What’s the Deal?

Plastic products are chock full of endocrine disrupting chemicals, which interfere with the secretion and regulation of hormones. BPA (Bisphenol A) is an example, and not only is it found in the interior coating of food and beverage cans, plastic food packaging, water bottles and nail polishes, it’s also on receipt paper! We inhale, ingest, and absorb these compounds through our skin.

During the breakdown process, our bodies don’t excrete BPA fully, and the compound accumulates in our tissues, including the reproductive organs. BPA is an endocrine disrupter because it’s structure is similar to estrogen and so it affects the regulation of estrogens and other steroid hormones by mimicking or blocking hormone action.

The Impact on Fertility

There are multiple effects of BPA exposure on female fertility. Animal studies have showed hormonal dysregulation at the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland in our brain, two key players of the endocrine system in that regulate female hormones. Other studies have shown BPA to cause follicle loss, which lowers the number of reserve eggs, as well as interfering with cell division decreasing egg survival.

Interestingly, one study showed that women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) had significantly higher BPA levels than women without PCOS. Higher testosterone levels and insulin resistance, two commonly found factors in ladies with PCOS have also been shown to result from BPA exposure.

Tips to Reduce your Exposure

  1. Use glass and metal containers instead of plastic for food and beverages.

  2. Never heat food or beverages in plastic containers, even if they are microwave safe or BPA free. Heat makes the chemicals in plastic leach out, which are absorbed into your food. BPA free products still have other endocrine disrupting chemicals that can cause similar outcomes.

  3. Read the labels on your lotions, shampoos, conditioners, detergents, soaps and makeup before you buy.

  4. Ditch your receipts. If you don’t need that receipt from the grocery store, don’t take it! If you need to touch thermal paper in your work place, consider wearing gloves.

Written by: Faaria Karim (USA ND, BC license awaiting)


Huo, Xianona et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 Sept; 12(9): 11101-11116.

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