According to the World Health Organization, approximately 17.5% of adults (roughly 1 in 6 couples) face substantial difficulties in conceiving. Environmental toxins have emerged as a significant contributor to this progressive reduction in fertility, affecting both men and women alike.
The effects of environmental toxins on fertility can be categorized into four main areas:
- Endocrine Disruption: Environmental toxins have the potential to disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in our bodies, leading to hormonal imbalances that can hinder fertility.
- Damage to the Female Reproductive System: The presence of toxins can cause direct damage to the female reproductive system, impacting ovulation, hormone production, and overall reproductive function.
- Damage to the Male Reproductive System: Environmental toxins can also adversely affect male fertility by disrupting sperm production, motility, and morphology.
- Impaired Fetal Viability: Exposure to these toxins during pregnancy can pose risks to fetal development and viability, leading to complications and potential infertility in the offspring.
Fortunately, there are tons of ways to reduce exposures to environmental toxins, especially at home! In this article, we’ll share our top tips for reducing environmental toxin exposures to support fertility.
- 1. Choose the Right Food Containers, Water Bottles, and Cookware
Simple changes in how we cook and store food can significantly reduce exposure to microplastics, BPAs, and heavy metals. Most grocery store and food delivery items come in plastic containers, including the reusable ones at home that slowly wear away, increasing the risk of microexposures to BPAs and plastics. Opting for glass, metal, or food-grade silicone containers whenever possible benefits health, fertility status, and the environment – and these are usually more durable!
Similarly, using reusable glass or metal water bottles filled with filtered water is another way to minimize environmental toxin exposure. Plus, they are more environmentally friendly and cost-effective than single-use plastic bottles. When it comes to cookware, stainless steel, glass, or ceramic options are preferable over non-stick surfaces, which can leach chemicals into food.
- 2. Be Careful with “Clean” Personal Care Products
The personal care products we use on a daily basis, such as cosmetics, skincare items, shampoos, toothpaste, and sunscreens, may contain ingredients that have been associated with cancer, reproductive harm, and allergies. Surprisingly, the FDA does not mandate safety testing for most of these ingredients, and several of them have been banned in other countries, including Europe.
Common ingredients to watch out for include formaldehyde, methylene glycol, heavy metals like mercury and lead, quaternium 15, parabens, PFAS, phthalates, M- and O-phenylenediamine, and “fragrance.“
It’s important to remember that when we apply these products to our skin, they are absorbed into our bodies through the dermal layers. So, even though we’re not consuming them directly, they still find their way inside. Thankfully, there is a wide range of exceptional companies today that offer non-toxic and “clean” personal care products. Take the time to review product labels for any of the mentioned ingredients and cross-check your current products using the EWG.org Skin Deep Database.
- 3. Use Non-Toxic Cleaning Products
Like personal care products, cleaning products offer another opportunity to greatly reduce our exposure to environmental toxins. From multi-purpose sprays to dish detergent, laundry detergent, and air fresheners, the world of cleaning products is vast. While some individuals prefer making their own cleaning solutions using ingredients like distilled white vinegar and baking soda, there are a wide range of fantastic non-toxic products available in the market.
Opting for non-toxic cleaning products ensures that we maintain a healthier environment while effectively tackling our cleaning needs. These products offer an alternative to traditional chemical-laden options, allowing us to keep our living spaces clean and fresh without compromising well-being.
- 4. Drink Filtered Water
Filtering your water is a simple and effective method to minimize unintended exposure to pollutants like heavy metals, pesticides, antibiotics, and PFAS. The EPA and EWG both provide resources for learning more about the quality of your local tap water. Our favorites are aqua tru’s and Berkey’s countertop water filtration systems and Mountain Valley’s home delivery service. We also recommend investing in a water filter for your shower, like AquaBliss or Jolie.
- 5. Choose Organic Produce
Eating organic produce is important for fertility due to several reasons. Firstly, organic farming practices prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which may negatively impact hormonal balance and reproductive health. Secondly, organic produce is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, which can lead to nutrient-rich soil and higher nutrient content in the fruits and vegetables. Thirdly, consuming organic food reduces exposure to potentially harmful chemicals and toxins that may disrupt the endocrine system and impair fertility. By choosing organic produce, individuals can support their reproductive health by minimizing exposure to harmful substances and promoting overall well-being.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about pesticides and chemicals in food, the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” guides are a great place to start!
- 6. Toss the “Fragrances” and Scented Candles and Sprays
When it comes to fertility, it’s important to be mindful of the term “fragrance” on product labels. Fragrances can contain phthalates, known to disrupt hormone production. Opting for fragrance-free lotions, detergents, perfumes, candles, and other products is recommended to minimize exposure to these endocrine disruptors. Many products now utilize essential oils for pleasant scents instead of synthetic fragrances. Instead of trying to mask odors, prioritize cleanliness in your surroundings and regularly dispose of trash, avoiding scented garbage bags. By making these choices, you can reduce potential hormonal disruptions and support your fertility journey.
- 7. Keep Your Space (and Air) Clean
Finally, creating a clean home environment can also support your fertility journey. Dust and dirt can harbor harmful substances like plastics and flame retardants from furniture, which are associated with hormone disruption. Regular cleaning and vacuuming helps maintain a clean space and improves air quality. In smaller spaces, investing in air purifiers can also be beneficial. Contrary to popular belief, outdoor air is often cleaner than the air indoors, so opening windows once in a while allows for some fresh circulation. By prioritizing cleanliness and fresh air, you can promote a healthier home environment that supports fertility and overall well-being.
While the idea of reducing toxin exposure may feel overwhelming, it is important to remember that we can only control so much! And what we do most of the time is what makes an impact. This is why making some of these minor swaps and changes at home can have a significant impact on fertility status (and health going forward)!!