Trying to get pregnant and want to do everything you can to help your chances? It’s great to take supplements, exercise, and manage your stress by getting acupuncture. But, there are things you do every day that you might not realize are hurting your fertility. Let’s talk about chemicals and fertility. You are interacting with chemicals every day at home, and how they can reduce your chances of getting pregnant—and how you can make healthy changes!
Chemical called “endocrine-disruptors” are found in many household products these days, from detergents, to shampoos, to body lotions. Endocrine-disruptors are also found in plastics, and are known to interfere with the hormones produced by our own endocrine system. You may have heard of bisphenyl A (BPA) and pthalates, which are two of the best-known endocrine disrupting chemicals and can cause a variety of fertility issues.
We find these in plastic products of all kinds, including water bottles and to-go containers. Pesticides, including the infamous DDT, also contain endocrine disruptors, and have also been shown to decrease pregnancy rates and increase miscarriage rates. Overall, endocrine disruptors are associated with PCOS, endometriosis, poor sperm quality and poor egg quality, preterm birth, and miscarriage.
So, how do these endocrine disrupting chemicals get into your body? You might eat them if they have leeched into your food from a plastic container, or they can be absorbed through the skin via cleaning or body care products, or inhaled if they’re in your environment. Some estimates put Americans’ microplastic intake at over 74,000 particles per year. Harmful plastics may also be found in electrical equipment and older plastics that are breaking down over time.
Once in your body, endocrine disruptors can either prevent your own hormones from doing their job, or mimic your hormones, which leads to overstimulation of your system. They trick your body into under-producing or over-producing your own hormones, which hurts your fertility.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of endocrine disruptors in our homes, cars, and workplaces—and you will want to get rid of as many as you can to protect your health and especially your fertility! Some of the easiest ones to change out are cleaning and body care products. Look for non-toxic, environmentally friendly cleaners, detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets. Look for products without parabens, phenols, phthalates, or fragrances in your cleaning products, and also your body care products like shampoos, soaps, lotions, and cosmetics.
Also, try to take all plastic out of your kitchen—don’t cook food with plastic utensils, don’t store warm or hot food in plastic, don’t reheat food in plastic. Ditch the non-stick cookware and instead choose stainless steel, ceramic, or cast-iron pots and pans to avoid chemicals leeching into your food while you cook. Whenever possible, use a water bottle made of glass or stainless steel and drink filtered tap water rather than bottled water. Lastly, don’t wash plastic food storage containers in the dishwasher to avoid inhaling microplastics that can harm your fertility.
Since pesticides can be endocrine disruptors, wash or peel your fruits and vegetables before you cook or eat them. One study showed that a higher intake of pesticide residue from fruits and vegetables led to an 18% decrease in chance of pregnancy in people using assisted reproductive technologies.
Chemicals and Fertility Recommendations
To sum up our recommendations:
- Use a glass or stainless steel water bottle (without a plastic liner!) and avoid bottled water
- Avoid hot plastic – don’t put hot food into a plastic container or reheat food in plastic containers
- Choose non-plasticized cookware and utensils
- Wash fruits and vegetables before you eat them
- Choose canned food that has a BPA-free label on it or food that comes in a glass jar
- Avoid buying food wrapped in plastic packaging
- Use non-toxic cleaners in your home
- Check the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database for information about which skin products have the least toxicity – sunscreen, lotion, make up, soap, etc.
- Avoid perfume and cologne
- Use a HEPA air filter in your home and vacuum frequently to reduce microplastic-containing dust
Resources for Chemicals and Fertility
Here are some more great resources that can help you clean up your home to avoid harming your fertility:
We’re happy to help guide you toward the best things you can do to help you get pregnant! To learn more about how we can help, email us.