- Brett Brown
Infertility is not an easy issue for any couple to deal with. For some this miracle of life can become a daunting task, and a failure to conceive has been the cause of many separations. Research has shown that due to the increase of plastics being used infertility rates are on the rise. Recent research has also indicated that PBDEs, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, are of increasing concern on how they affect health and fertility in both men and women.
PBDEs are chemical flame retardants that are applied to many things such as foam furniture, carpets, fabrics, plastics, and electronics. In a study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal, PBDE blood levels were measured in 223 women. The women with the higher levels of PBDE blood concentration experienced a longer delay before pregnancy. Each tenfold increase in blood concentration of PBDEs was linked to a 30% decrease in the likelihood of becoming pregnant each month.
Previous studies suggest that 97% of Americans have detectable levels of this substance in their blood. PBDEs have been shown to mimic estrogen, and also to have a negative effect on the thyroid hormone. Too high or too low thyroid hormone levels can impair fertility.
Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency and the two largest manufacturers of one type of PBDE agreed to phase out the use of the chemical. However, these toxic substances will be in the environment for a long time to come.
Plastics And BPA
Many plastics contain a chemical called bisphenol-A, or BPA. BPA is found in many products such as baby bottles, water bottles, and storage containers. BPA is used in the production of epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics, and it tends to find its way into many of our everyday products including the lining of aluminum cans.
Associate professor of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale says that BPA changes the expression of the key developmental genes that form the uterus. Taylor suggests that when pregnant women are exposed to the estrogen mimicking properties found in BPA, it can impact the reproductive tract development and the future fertility of female fetuses. In essence this research shows that BPA may prevent the embryo from attaching to the uterus for further development.
In men the estrogen mimicking effects of BPA have been know to block some of the more important effects that testosterone has on sexual functioning. A study done in China was conducted on 550 factory workers, some of who were exposed to BPA. Those who were exposed to BPA were four times more likely than those who were not to report some sort of sexual dysfunction.
As an alternative to storage containers and plastic bottles, a good idea is to move forward with the use of glass storage containers and bottles which have not been associated with any known cases of infertility. Both BPAs and PBDEs are of increasing concern for sexual dysfunction and infertility, and should be considered very carefully if trying to conceive a child. It should be noted that these chemicals have also been linked to developmental disorders in children, which is also on the rise.