Men's Health

Bisphenol A May Lower the Quantity and Quality of Sperm

Bisphenol A May Lower the Quantity and Quality of Sperm

A new study has shown that higher levels of bisphenol A (BPA) in urine may lower sperm count and motility in men, affecting their ability to father a child. The results of the study are published in the journal Fertility and Sterility and this is first of its kind to link the levels of BPA to sperm quality. Earlier studies had shown similar effects in animals. Animal studies show that BPA affects the sperm production but the effect of this chemical in humans is not clear.

According to study author De-Kun Li, MD, PhD, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research in Oakland, higher the levels of BPA, lower the semen quality. These results adds to the evidence about the effects of this chemical on sperm quality. The results of the study show that out of the 218 men, those with higher levels of BPA had two to four times reduction in the motility and count of sperms when compared to their counterparts who had lower levels of BPA in urine. The levels of BPA varied from person to person, but occupational BPA exposure was the most common cause for higher levels of urinary BPA.

There is already a concerted effort to eliminate BPA from baby bottles, but the chemical is also present in other common substances like the lining of canned foods, plastic containers, dental sealants, and cigarette filters. As this chemical has a lot of potential health concerns, the FDA has called for more studies on it.  The Canadian Government has placed BPA among the toxic chemicals list. Since the health concerns are more, it is better to steer clear from the chemical, says Li. One can keep away from this chemical by avoiding canned foods.

Laura N. Vandenberg, PhD, of the department of biology at Tufts University in Boston, says that this study has clearly pointed out the health impacts of BPA on sperm quality which will have a negative impact on the men’s ability to have children. It also shows that adult men are sensitive to BPA and even small amounts of this chemical can have a serious impact on the individual, adds Vandenberg. More studies are required to see whether these effects are permanent after low, chronic exposures to this chemical.

According to Steven G. Hentges, PhD, of the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group of the American Chemistry Council, a trade group in Washington, D.C,  the study results cannot be generalized to American people. The study was conducted on Chinese workers who are exposed to more amounts of this chemical when compared to American population. He says that in US the exposure to BPA is limited as per the worker safety programs. He also adds that even though the sperm quality has reduced considerably, it is not sure that these people meet the criteria for infertility as given by the World Health Organization. 

Key Takeaways

  • Bisphenol A can lower sperm count in men.