27 Apr FERTILITY Detox
After my miscarriage in September 2019, I became obsessed with learning about endocrine disruptors and how they effect the hormonal system.
Did you know that our hormonal systems are constantly being compromised by chemicals and toxins that are labeled “safe” by the US government? And that some of these substances have been linked to miscarriage, low libido, low sperm count, poor egg quality and an increased risk for endometriosis?
Over 80,000 chemicals are registered in the US and only a very small percentage have been tested and analyzed for safety and reproductive harm. These toxins are lurking in everything from plastic containers and feminine hygiene products to cleaning products and in the food that we eat.
So what are all these toxins and how to avoid them? The kind of detox I wanted to write about today is how to reduce endocrine disruptors, sex hormone blockers and estrogen mimickers that are all present in our everyday life, and can cause serious harm to the male and female sex hormones. Below is a short description of the most common ones and how they effect your hormones and your fertility.
Beautiful art by Codex Anatomicus
Endocrine disruptors disrupts the function of the entire endocrine system including male and female sex hormones (such as estrogen) as well as the thyroid. They mimic naturally occurring hormones, interfere with the way natural hormones and their receptors are made and controlled as well as block natural hormones from binding to the cells they are supposed to.
- They can negatively affect fertility in both women and men resulting in lower egg and sperm quality.
2. They can contribute to obesity, PMS, PCOS, prostate cancer, autoimmune disorders.
3. They can impact fetal and child development.
Endocrine disruptors surrounds us and can be found in everyday products such as Skin care products, Plastics, Foods, Insecticides and Preservatives. Below are the most likely disruptors to compromise fertility:
- Synthetic fragrance
What to avoid when trying to conceive or while pregnant
Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break and can be found in plastic, vinyl, nail polish, fragrance and cleaning products. These chemicals compromise the activity of hormones that are critical for fertility and have been linked to decreased egg quality and miscarriage. Phthalates are officially recognized as a reproductive toxin in the European Union and in the US the FDA acknowledges phthalates as an endocrine disruptor.
Below is a list of the most important products to stop using, as they contain large amounts of phthalates. Please note that manufacturers do not have to list phthalates on the ingredient list but can simply include the overall term “fragrance”.
- Conventional perfume and all products containing the word “Fragrance” in the ingredient list. Substitute with products labeled “Fragrance Free” for safer options.
- Fabric softeners
- Nail polish (there are some that claims to be 7-free or 9-free but often the manufacturer has simply changed to another phthalate)
- Air fresheners
- Hair styling products (unless specifically labeled phthalate-free)
Parabens are preservatives used in lotions, deodorants, toothpaste and other skin care products. Check for words ending in “-paraben” Example: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.
Best advice is to look for ‘Fragrance Free” products. Great skin care companies are Beauty Counter and Mineral Fusion where most products are EWG verified. I suggest using the Skin Deep App to look up skin care products and look for the EWG Verified symbol. Also, make sure your yoga mat labeled “PVC free” or “phthalate free” and ditch that shower curtain made with PVC.
The skin is the largest organ, and it absorbs products quickly. It is worse to put harmful products on the skin than it is to eat them!
Bisphenol A or BPA for short can mimics the effects of estrogen and has been proven to compromise both egg quality and fertility as well as being linked to increased chance of miscarriages. BPA can be found in everything from plastic containers and canned food to plastic cooking ware, BPA coated paper receipts and plastic drinking bottles.
Suggestions on how to avoid BPA products
- Only use glass or stainless steel water bottles
- Use glass or stainless steel storage containers for food
- Minimizing canned and processed foods
- Chose wood and stainless steel instead of plastic kitchenware
- Use a french press instead of a coffee maker with plastic parts
- A plastic tea kettle can be replaced for one in stainless steel
- Wash your hands after handling receipts (or use gloves if you are working with receipts daily)
FEMININE HYGIEN AND CLEANING PRODUCTS
Other places toxins hide are cleaning products and feminine hygiene products. Avoid conventional tampons and pads that are made with pesticide-soaked cotton and petroleum based foams and opt for a much healthier options by brands like NatraCare and Seventh Generation. As far as cleaning products goes, best option is DIY Water+Vinegar+ essential oils or Baking soda + essential oils. Check out Women’s Voices for the Earth for more tips.
Chemicals hide in the most unlikely of places, and it’s hard to avoid them. Though the FDA deems most cleaning and personal care products “safe,” it’s important to remember that safe doesn’t equal nontoxic.
I hope this blog shed some light on the subject of endocrine disruptors and how they can effect our fertility. I highly recommend Environmental Working Group’s phenomenal website (also an app) where you can find several Consumer Guides for safe tap water, skin care products, shoppers guide to pesticides in produce and more. They have a TON of valuable information on how to live “clean”.
I hope this blog shed some light on the subject of endocrine disruptors and how they can effect our fertility. Remember, it’s never too early or too late to start reducing your exposure to toxins. However, it is recommended to start at least three months before you start trying to conceive naturally or via IVF because it takes approximately three months for eggs to fully develop.
I highly recommend Environmental Working Group’s phenomenal website (also an app) where you can find several Consumer Guides for safe tap water, skin care products, shoppers guide to pesticides in produce and more. They have a TON of valuable information on how to live “clean”.
Rebecca Fett’s “It starts with the egg” is an amazing book for in-depth information on how the science of egg quality can help you get pregnant naturally or prepare for IVF.
Stay safely informed and best of luck on your journey of Health & Fertility