When we’re in the process of trying to get pregnant, many women will go to every length to make sure that we’re ready for this next big step. We’ll prep our homes with a new nursery. We’ll read every book. We’ll eat healthy and work out. We’ll check our calendars, take all the nutritional supplements, try every relevant superstition out there… you get the idea!
But, while we’re busy analyzing everything we do, see, or eat, there is a hidden danger that can profoundly affect our fertility health that many of us are completely unaware of. Underlying toxins in our environment affect how well our hormones function, the quality of the sperm and egg, and so much more. And because they’re mostly hidden to the naked eye, they can easily be overlooked or ignored. It is entirely possible that these toxins are impacting your ability to get or stay pregnant, and you may not even know it.
There are three very significant facts that you should be aware of going into this conversation:
This especially matters when we’re trying to get pregnant because most toxins in our environment are estrogen-based, or at least mimic estrogen in our bodies (aka xenoestrogens). This means that they directly impact your ability to conceive.
Your body’s production of estrogen is responsible for stimulating cell division in hormone responsive tissue like your uterus, breast tissue, and ovaries. When you’re exposed to estrogen-based toxins, these xenoestrogens can create an overload of estrogen, over-stimulating tissue growth and causing ovarian cysts, endometriosis, fibrocystic breast disease, and even cancer. In addition, in men, these toxins are believed to contribute to decreased sperm count, as well as prostate and testicular cancers.
Realistically, you can’t avoid ALL the toxins in your environment. But you can absolutely minimize your exposure by paying attention to what you eat, how you live, and the products you bring into your home.
The most common endocrine-disrupting substances to be aware of include:
Even if you try to avoid these products all together, human-made chemical toxins impact us all. They pass through our water, air, soil, and food system, making them extremely difficult to avoid.
As I mentioned, it’s pretty much impossible to completely rid your environment of dangerous human-made toxins. However, here are my favorite tips that will help you significantly decrease your exposure.
Pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides are wizards when it comes to mimicking estrogen. They also impair thyroid function and increase fat cell growth, which is rarely something we want no matter our phase of life.
Whenever possible, eat organic foods that have not been treated with chemicals. This includes always choosing organic, grass-fed and pasture-raised when buying your meats. Animal products are hands down the most important food to purchase organic, because animals accumulate toxicity much more readily than plants do.
Speaking of plants – I highlight recommend purchasing the ‘Dirty Dozen’ fruits and vegetables organic whenever available. This will help to decrease 90% of your pesticide exposure. (If you’re not familiar with the ‘Dirty Dozen’ – the twelve most heavily sprayed fruits and vegetables, you can learn more here.)
Everything that goes on your skin enters your body through your pores. By choosing personal care products that have 100% natural ingredients, you can ensure you’re not being exposed to potent endocrine disruptors like parabens, sodium lauryl sulfates, phthalates, propylene glycol, and triclosan (found in antibacterial products).
There are two simple rules of thumb that I choose to abide by when purchasing my beauty products:
To help you out, I’ve created a list of all of my favorite beauty care products, cleaning supplies, and more. This is the stuff I use personally on my body and in my home. Check out the Shop My Home section of my website to learn more.
There are several studies that link exposure to air pollution with autism-spectrum disorders. One study even found that autism risk DOUBLED for children born to women exposed to high levels of pollution.
There is still quite a bit of research that needs to be completed regarding which chemicals in air pollution negatively impact us, but one thing is for certain—we should do everything we can to limit our exposure to air pollution, especially when we’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
The American Lung Association has provided us with several ways that we can limit our exposure to air pollution here. Some methods that I highly recommend include:
This is a tough one for several of my clients to make the switch but I promise it’s worth it!
The non-stick coating material—PFOA—is a powerful hormone disruptor that can leach into foods when heated. Helen Sanders over at Health Ambition wrote a great article highlighting the recent studies showing significant evidence that PFOA contains carcinogenic properties—aka causes cancer!
While more studies are still being conducted, I definitely recommend opting for ceramic, stainless steel, glass or cast-iron cookware. Never cook in non-stick or aluminum pans.
As more and more chemicals are being used by humans, our water supply is becoming increasingly contaminated with hormone-disrupting elements.
Be sure to use a high quality water filter to remove toxins, heavy metals, fluoride, herbicides, disinfectants, and other municipal “additives” from your drinking water. Alternatively, you can choose spring or mineral water that is bottled at the source in glass bottles. These options will go a long way in reducing your exposure to unnecessary chemicals.
Similar to the reasons why I recommend natural beauty-care products, I also recommend installing a shower filter. Think about how much of our lives are spent submerged in water from our showers and baths. Installing a shower filter is one of the easiest things you can do!
Are you conscious of trying to reduce toxins in your environment?
What are some of your favorite “clean” products you purchase?
Which products are hardest for you to switch over?
Spread some detoxin lovin’! Sharing is caring, and I bet you have some friends who would love to read this too :).
The Fertility Code is the best-kept secret of women who want to take the guesswork out of conceiving, and give themselves every possible chance of getting pregnant successfully.
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This essential fertility course is for anyone who is struggling to get pregnant, or thinking about getting pregnant soon. The course covers all the fertility topics: egg quality, ovarian reserve, miscarriage, ovulation, cycle tracking, low progesterone, IVF, prepping for egg retrieval + embryo transfer, thyroid health, toxins, and much more. It covers EVERYTHING you need to know and you can move through the modules at your own pace.
The Fertility Code will give you the tools, protocols, tests, supplements, and more to optimize your fertility health, nourish your body, and give it what it needs to make a baby, and ensure a healthy full-term pregnancy. It has helped hundreds of women get pregnant, and stay pregnant, and it can help you too.
And if you want to get a baseline of your fertility health before getting started, take my quiz! After you complete it, you’ll receive a detailed report from me explaining your results.
If you want more personalized guidance and support, or want to have a more in-depth conversation about your specific concerns, feel free to schedule a 1:1 consultation. I offer 1:1 consultations through the convenience of video conferencing for women and couples with various fertility & hormonal health concerns.
Sarah Jane Sandy is a certified nutrition therapist, and a fertility and women’s health expert. She has helped hundreds of women increase their fertility naturally and go on to have healthy full-term pregnancies. She has been working with women and couples trying to get pregnant for over 15 years and over 90% of the women who work with her get pregnant and have healthy babies. Learn more about her own fertility journey here. To send Sarah a message, complete her Contact Form.