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Soy offers Protective Benefits to Women on Infertility Treatments, Study Finds

Update Date: Jan 28, 2016 11:33 AM EST

Women who are undergoing infertility treatments or planning to might want to add soy into their diets. According to a new study, researchers found that soy can counteract the effects of Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure and increase a woman's chances of getting pregnant.

BPA is a chemical that has been tied to reproductive disorders due to the fact that the compound can mimic estrogen, which is a naturally occurring sex hormone found in the body. Since nearly everyone is exposed to BPA in the U.S., the researchers set out to see if anything can negate the effects that BPA has on reproduction.

The researchers recruited 239 women from the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) study, who had at least one in-vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle within the time frame of 2007 to 2012. The women were between the ages o 18 and 45. All of them filled out questionnaires that asked them about their diet. The participants' urine was also collected to measure BPA levels.

The team discovered that in women who ate soy frequently (176 women), BPA levels did not seem to affect their IVF outcomes. In women who did not eat soy regularly, however, those with high BPA levels had lower rates of embryo implantation and lower rates of live births. This group of women was also less likely to have pregnancies that reached passed the point where a fetus would be detectable on an ultrasound.

"Our study is the first to show a possible interaction between soy and BPA in humans," first author Dr. Jorge Chavarro said reported in the press release. "This is consistent with research in mice that found a soy-rich diet could protect against reproductive health problems associated with BPA exposure. More research is needed to determine why soy has this effect in humans."

Senior author Dr. Russ Hauser added, "Although it is recommended that women trying to get pregnant reduce their exposure to BPA, our findings suggest that diet may modify some of the risks of exposure to BPA, a chemical that is nearly impossible to completely avoid due to its widespread use."

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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