When it comes time to expand your family, you really want to give your body the best chance to conceive. Many factors can impact female and male fertility, such as smoking, high blood pressure, heavy consumption of alcohol, and depression. Beyond these factors that are commonly discussed, there are certain ingredients in cosmetics, household cleaners, plastic containers, pesticides, and more that can negatively impact your chances. So if you’re trying to conceive with your partner, educating yourself on these hormone disruptors will only help improve your chances of making a sweet and adorable little baby.
Common Female Fertility Issues
It’s true — every baby is a miracle, considering how difficult it can be for some women to conceive. For females, there are several common conditions that can impact their fertility, including menstrual and ovulation irregularities, implantation and maturation issues, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), autoimmune disorders, and even infections. For example, in both men and women, those who have had untreated gonorrhea, human papillomavirus (HPV), and some other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can have issues with infertility.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are substances that can be found in the environment or the products we use on a daily basis. Studies have shown that EDCs can have a negative impact on the fertility of men and women, causing damage to the DNA structures in sperm, more extended periods in women, and increasing the chances of miscarriage.
Common EDCs include parabens, phthalates, bisphenols like BPA/BPF/BPS, persistent organic pollutants, herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides, and heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and aluminum.
Because women tend to apply makeup and use more beauty products, they have a higher chance of exposure. Many cosmetic companies sneak these harmful chemicals in to extend their shelf life or make them long-lasting when applied. These chemicals can be absorbed through the skin, ingested, or inhaled.
Common Male Fertility Issues
For men, the leading causes of infertility look a little different. Varicocele (swelling of the veins that drain the testicle), infections, testicle and ejaculation irregularities, tubule defects, and hormone imbalances are the top culprits.
Hormones also play an incredibly crucial role in the male’s fertility. The follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and testosterone are three hormones that drive male fertility.
While men aren’t exposed to EDCs through cosmetics, they are still very much at risk of absorbing them through the environment, pesticides on food products, plastic and aluminum containers, and household cleaners. Studies have shown that EDCs can negatively impact a man’s fertility as they interfere with the mechanism of action and synthesis of sex hormones. These hormone-disrupting chemicals can decrease the quality of sperm and its motility as well.
How to Improve your Fertility
Firstly, it’s imperative to read the labels of everything you bring into your house or even use outside of it. Familiarize yourself with the harmful hormone-disrupting chemicals and try to opt for products that don’t contain any of them. If your memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be, the Think Dirty app can help. Its new Ingredient Preference feature can identify hormone disruptors in products before you even purchase them, keeping your body (and your partner’s body) free of EDCs and other harmful ingredients.
Other ways to avoid the absorption of EDCs are by regularly washing your hands, vacuuming and dusting your living space frequently, avoiding the use of products with added fragrances, wrapping your leftovers in beeswax wrap or glass containers, and drinking filtered tap water.
It’s also a good idea to avoid consuming foods or beverages that are stored in plastics as these often contain bisphenol-A (otherwise known as BPA) and PVC #3, which contains phthalates. Both of these are common EDCs. Cans may also be lined with BPA, so it's best to consume fresh produce and whole foods whenever possible.
Living a clean lifestyle may be precisely what’s needed to boost your fertility and eventually expand your family.
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Improve Your Fertility by Avoiding These Hormone Disrupting Toxins was originally published in Think Dirty on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.