Guest blog by Monika Friedman, a Fertility Coach.
Let’s talk about one important piece in the fertility puzzle today – your exposure to environmental toxins, plastics, pesticides, chemicals and heavy metals.
What Does Science Say?
Research shows that metals and chemicals in air, water, food, and health-and-beauty products can be damaging to fertility in a variety of ways. These toxicants can impact men’s decreasing sperm count and function while women may suffer from anovulation, impaired implantation, and loss of fetal viability.
Numerous studies show that BPA (bisphenol A) and phtalates – commonly found in packaging, cosmetics, toys, plastic bottles and cans – disrupt the endocrine system. This means they have a negative effect on the normal functioning of our precious reproductive hormones.
EDCs, aka endocrine disrupting chemicals (see a full list here), basically mimic our hormones, send signals that are not supposed to be sent and make cells pretend that real estrogen has docked on. False estrogen signals can lead to a number of reproductive functions and neural developments not working properly. Exposure to EDCs has shown to result in lack of ovulation (anovulation), slower follicle growth, lower antral follicle count and oocyte viability, earlier menopause, lower implantation and higher miscarriage risk.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals also increase oxidative stress on cells. All of our cells in the body need a balance of antioxidants and pro-oxidants, but when pro-oxidants are higher then the oxidation of the cells leads to faster aging and lower quality, i.e. sperm and egg quality.
So What Can You Do?
Knowledge is power!
If you know what chemicals can do to your fertile body, then making some of the changes outlined below becomes a no-brainer, even though it may require an initial investment and change of thinking.
While our body is able to detoxify on its own through the liver, environmental toxins are constantly affecting us through what we eat, breathe and put on our bodies. This overload of toxins can have a huge impact on fertility as it increases inflammation, lowers egg quality and makes the lining of the uterine wall less welcoming to an egg.
Limit your exposure, or avoid chemicals and toxins, to balance and improve reproductive hormones and egg health:
1. Perfumes – spray on clothes instead of your skin or avoid altogether
2. Plastic bottles, containers and cling film, especially when heated – use BPA-free containers found online or in health stores
3. Aluminum foil – use baking paper instead
4. Household cleaning products that are not eco-friendly – look for more natural options such as Ecover, Meyer’s, Seventh Generation
5. Synthetic personal care including lotion, shampoo, beauty – opt for more natural, BPA, paraben & perfume-free brands, such as Jason’s, Weleda, Alba, C & The Moon. For make-up try Glo Skin Beauty
6. Cookware – ditch all your old Teflon pans as they may still contain un-coated aluminum, and invest in non-toxic ones. If you are still using Aluminum pans or foil, then do it safely; make sure any coating is undamaged and try to minimize food contact with Aluminum.
7. Vegetables, fruit and meat options – shop for organic and pesticide/chemical-free items. While these may be a bit more expensive, the benefits are worth it: think about nourishing your body only with the best foods, like fueling your car with high-grade gas instead of one that damages the engine.
9. Water – switch from tap water to filtered water, or install a filter on your faucet
I remember feeling overwhelmed when I realized I had to throw all my cleaning products and shampoos away and buy new ones. But then I quickly realized I was also starting to shift my consciousness about our environment, how to do little things to keep our planet clean and green, etc.
My advice to you is: Progress, not perfection.
Change one small thing every day. Your body will thank you when the times comes for you to conceive.
Oh – and all of this improves both for female and male fertility!
Once you are pregnant and then when your sweet baby is born, you will want to continue your toxin-free environment to protect the development of your child’s nervous system and immune system. So it’s never too early to start.
And starting today is a smart step you can take for your future family’s health and the planet.
As a fertility coach Monika provides emotional, lifestyle & practical fertility support for women, helping them to increase their chances of conceiving and manage their emotions along the way.
She’s a 4-time IVF warrior turned fertility coach, mind-body teacher, health & life coach. Her own journey to becoming a mom (1 IVF, 1 naturally conceived baby) has made her passionate about helping make YOUR path easier.