Can Microplastics Affect My Fertility?

28 July 2023

There are increasing concerns that chemicals in microplastics can disrupt hormone function associated with reproduction and immunity. Scientific research has found that human samples show that nearly everyone has endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which are used to make plastics, in their bodies. It has been reported that some EDCs can simulate the actions of estrogens and androgens which are key hormones for female and male reproduction and disrupt the body’s process for making eggs and sperm.

Scientific research in animals looking at BPA exposure, a chemical used to harden plastic, has found that it can effect the making of eggs in the ovary and can alter stem cells in the testis (cells responsible for making sperm). There have also been reports that BPA exposure may possibly be associated with a range of diseases and medical conditions including cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive loss and diabetes. BPA exposure can derive from the environment around us (air, water and dust). However, BPA exposure mostly comes from our food and drinks, for example when food is heated up in plastic containers or where chemicals leach in acidic foods in cans. 

Scientific research has also reported that women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment with high BPA levels in their urine are associated with decreased ovarian response, fewer numbers of fertilized eggs, as well as reduced hormone (estradiol) response to help uterine lining thickening ahead of implantation.

There are also concerns that high levels of exposure to chemicals known as PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) used in the production of a range of items including non-stick cookware, cosmetics, dental floss and food packaging may lead to decreases in infant birth weights, higher risks of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women and kidney cancer.

Whilst more scientific research is required, there are reports that further research will likely strengthen the association between exposure to EDCs and increasing demand for assisted reproductive technology.  You can read more here.

Fertility & Family Law

Maximising and protecting fertility and navigating assisted reproduction can also raise complex legal and wider issues. Specialist fertility and family law advice helps effectively project manage your family building journey. It provides end-to-end legal and practical strategies to effectively plan pre-conception, pregnancy, birth and family life. In doing so, it can address:

  • Legal issues and options due to impaired fertility including cancer diagnosis, unsuccessful conception, age-related fertility decline, change in gender, altered personal circumstances, delayed parenthood (e.g. fertility preservation and maximisation, management of personal relationships, implications of using donor eggs and sperm and fertility treatment).
  • Unexpected death of a loved-one and issues associated with posthumous storage and use of eggs, sperm and embryos in fertility treatment (e.g. due to an accident or illness).
  • Legal issues and options associated with assisted conception involving a known donor, co-parent or surrogate (e.g. legal parentage, parental rights, financial responsibility and dispute mitigation).
  • Difficulties with storage and use of frozen eggs, sperm and embryos in fertility treatment in the UK (e.g. problems with consent).
  • Issues associated with import of frozen gametes and embryos into the UK for use in fertility treatment and surrogacy (e.g. due to anonymous and commercially obtained gametes and embryos which engage UK public policy restrictions).
  • Issues concerning the export of frozen gametes and embryos abroad for use in fertility treatment and surrogacy (e.g. consent and storage term difficulties).
    Unexpected death of a loved-one and related issues associated with posthumous storage and use of eggs, sperm and embryos in fertility treatment (e.g. due to an accident or illness).
  • Legal parentage issues and disputes (e.g. concerning DNA testing, direct-to-consumer genetic testing, rectification of birth certificate, declaration of parentage, step-parent adoption, recognition of overseas adoption, parental order).
  • Care and upbringing of children following a dispute with an ex-partner, parent, donor or surrogate (e.g. contact, residence, financial arrangements, parental responsibility, specific issue or prohibited steps).

If you would like to discuss your fertility, pre-conception, family building, general and family life needs or you would benefit from advisory and consultancy support contact Louisa Ghevaert by email  or by telephone +44 (0)20 7965 8399.


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