<< Topics | Get Tested
Avoiding “harsh chemicals” has been the mantra of health professionals for decades. And chances are, you’ve followed that advice…for the most part. No one wants to be exposed to harmful chemicals, but sometimes the danger isn’t so obvious. This is the case with Bisphenol A (BPA). This fertility damaging chemical is hidden in every day materials, like receipts, disposable water bottles, or even canned goods. What is BPA? What’s the relationship of BPA and male fertility? And how can you avoid BPA exposure?
What is BPA?
Like we said, BPA stands for Bisphenol A, a chemical that’s used mostly to harden plastics. It’s been used for roughly 40 years- in medical devices, electronics, even Tupperware. This is because as a plastic, BPA is pretty awesome. It’s very heat resistant, as well as electronic resistant, and allows for an incredibly clear plastic that won’t shatter. Awesomeness aside, BPA also has a nasty tendency to break down over time, and since it’s used to harden food and beverage containers, this can mean that the BPA is absorbed by the food or drink that was being contained. So when you eat food or drink that’s been stored in containers comprised of BPA, you run the chance of consuming BPA.
Ingesting food or drink containing BPA isn’t the only way for you to be exposed to unhealthy amounts. BPA can also be absorbed through the skin when you handle items containing high amounts, such as the thermal paper used for printing receipts. Exposure can also occur when you use skin products that were stored in containers that used BPA. These products absorb the BPA in a similar way to the food and drink that we discussed earlier. On top of that, skin care products usually contain “dermal penetration enhancers”, chemicals used to increase product absorption, which subsequently increase BPA absorption.
How does it affect my fertility?
Before you write us off as another site that just assumes all chemicals are bad for you, you might want to check out what BPA could be doing to your fertility. BPA is what’s known as an “endocrine disruptor”. This means that when high amounts of it are consumed or absorbed, BPA mimics estrogen. It binds to estrogen receptors, leading to an increase in estrogen levels and causing an imbalance in your hormones. This leads to impaired testosterone production. Since healthy testosterone levels are crucial to sperm production, a lack of testosterone significantly impacts sperm quality. One study found that men with high traces of BPA in their urine had 23% lower sperm concentration, 13% decline in morphology, a 7.5% decrease is sperm motility, and a 10% increase in sperm DNA damage.
This is not to say that you should panic after drinking a canned soda or being handed a receipt. Occasional exposure to BPA won’t do very much to your body. However, if you have a job that consists of constantly touching receipt paper, or a diet largely comprised of food stored in packages containing BPA, you may want to take steps to reducing your BPA exposure.
How Do I Avoid BPA?
A surprising amount of items contain BPA. Here’s a short list of the most common products that could expose you to BPA:
Receipt paper/Airline tickets: We know, we covered this already. But just to drive it home: exposure to thermal paper is bad. We encourage you to go green: opt out of getting a receipt or choose to receive an e-receipt/ticket. If you need to be exposed to thermal paper for your job, make sure to wear protective gloves when dealing with it, and always wash your hands after exposure.
Canned food/Bottled drinks: A good rule of thumb for figuring out which food containers contain BPA is checking the container for the number 7 recycling code. If it’s a number 7 recyclable, the odds are very high that it contains BPA. Here’s a list of BPA free canned goods.
Plastic cookware: The tools you use to prepare your meals can also leach BPA in your food. Make sure to carefully check for a BPA-free label on the tool’s container, or check the cookware for the number 7 recycling code.
Skin care products: Always check the label. Look for a BPA-free label or the recycle number 7 symbol on the container, or opt for glass containers.
Dental fillings: BPA is a component that’s frequently used to harden fillings. Before getting your dental work, make sure to let your dentist know your concerns about BPA. They’ll work with you to find a BPA-free solution.
While BPA can be difficult to spot at first, once you know what you’re looking for it’s fairly easy to avoid heavy BPA exposure. Avoiding BPA exposure shouldn’t limit any other aspects of your life, but it will greatly improve your fertility and overall health. When all is said and done, removing large amounts of this chemical from your daily life is an easy fix that will have a major pay-off in the long-term.