October 14 , 2013
by: ASRM Office of Public Affairs
Published in ASRM Press Release
Boston, MA- Researchers presenting at the conjoint meeting of the International Federation of Fertility Societies and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine have identified specific effects of bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates on human reproduction.
These chemicals are used in the manufacture of plastics and other products, accumulate in the environment and human tissues and are known to be endocrine disruptors. While evidence is growing that BPA and phthalates influence the success of couples undergoing IVF, less is known about how these chemicals affect couples who are presumed fertile, who are trying to conceive, and how they affect a woman’s ability to sustain a pregnancy.
In one study, examining BPA and phthalate levels in 501 couples trying to become pregnant, researchers from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Texas A&M Rural School of Public Health, and the New York State Department of Public Health found that phthalate concentrations found in the male partners, but not the females, may be associated with approximately a 20% decline in fecundity.
Couples discontinuing contraception in order to become pregnant were recruited between 2005 and 2009. They were interviewed at the outset, examined, and all individuals provided urine samples for measuring their BPA and phthalate levels. In addition, the couples kept journals on intercourse and lifestyle and the women recorded their menstrual cycles and pregnancy test results.
The researchers found that higher BPA concentrations in the female partner did not lead to decreased fecundity and that, in fact, higher concentrations of a certain phthalate were associated with a shorter time to pregnancy. In the male partners, concentrations of other phthalate chemicals were associated with diminished fecundity and longer time to pregnancy.