Effects of BPA and Phthalates on Conception and Pregnancy

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.

O-2  Bisphenol A, Phthalates and Couple Fecundity, The Life Study GM Buck
Louis et al   

In another study, researchers from Stanford University, the University of California San Francisco and the University of Missouri found that women with levels of BPA in the highest quartile are at significantly increased risk of having a miscarriage. 

They recruited 114 women having an early pregnancy test at four to five weeks gestation.  The enrollees gave blood to be stored. This was later tested for BPA levels in the women who had given birth and in the women who had had a first trimester miscarriage with testing for chromosomal abnormalities.  Serum BPA concentration levels were ranked in quartiles and the researchers calculated the relative risk of miscarriage for women in each quartile of serum BPA concentration.

Women who had had a miscarriage had higher average BPA levels than those who had live births and the risk of miscarriage increased with increasing levels of BPA in the maternal serum- whether the fetus was chromosomally normal or not.

O-61     Maternal Serum Bisphenol-A (BPA) Level Is Positively Associated with Miscarriage Risk 
RB Lathi et al 

ASRM President Linda Giudice, MD, PhD observed, “Many studies on environmental contaminants’ impact on reproductive capacity have been focused on infertility patients and it is clear that high levels of exposure affect them negatively.  These studies extend our observations to the general population and show that these chemicals are a cause for concern to all of us.”

Also of interest:

Chinese scientists have found that high BPA levels in the follicular fluid of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) patients may inhibit the activity of a gene in granulosa cells, interrupting the conversion of androgen to estrogen and causing an abnormal accumulation of androgen hormones.

O-42  Bisphenol A (BPA) Induces Abnormal Androgen Accumulation Via Androgen-Androgen Receptor (AR) Mediated CYP19A1 Transcription Inhibition in Granulosa Cells (GC’s)
Pan et al 

Representing more than 50 fertility societies from around the globe, the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) is the world’s principal international fertility organization. The IFFS was founded in 1951, and held its first congress in New York in 1953. The IFFS mission is to stimulate basic and clinical research, disseminate education and encourage superior clinical care of patients in infertility and reproductive medicine. Website: http://www.iffs-reproduction.org/ 

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, founded in 1944, is an organization of more than 7,000 physicians, researchers, nurses, technicians and other professionals dedicated to advancing knowledge and expertise in reproductive biology.  Affiliated societies include the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, the Society of Reproductive Surgeons and the Society of Reproductive Biologists and Technologists.

For more information on these press releases, contact:

J. Benjamin Younger Office of Public Affairs
409 12th Street SW, Suite 203
Washington, DC 20024-2188
Tel: (202) 863-2494/Fax: (202) 484-4039


Eleanor Nicoll
Phone: 240-274-2209
Email: enicoll@asrm-dc.org


Single donation

Make Donation

  • Other: $

Donate now