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Environmental Toxins to Avoid for Healthy Fertility

Environmental Toxins to Avoid for Healthy Fertility

footprintsVisit any natural healthcare practitioner, or do any amount of research on the web, and you may walk away with a rather dismal conclusion about the environment we live in: human-made toxins are impacting health negatively.

Nuclear explosions, factory emissions, chemicals all over our fruits and hormones in our meats; it seems that everywhere you look, there is the potential for damage at the hands of an environment which has been sorely abused.

So when it comes to your fertility, how do you avoid the bad that is in even the air you breathe? It starts by recognizing the environmental toxins you are most often exposed to, and learning how to reduce your risks.

Around the House

Yes, even within the confines of your own four walls, there are reasons for concern. It is possible your beauty and cleaning supplies could be harming your fertility, without any way of knowing for sure. That is because, out of the thousands of chemicals which are used to create the products you utilize every day, only a fraction have actually been tested for safety. Of those that have been tested, we know there are a few which present potential dangers and the possibility of reduced fertility. Phthalates, for instance, are a group of chemicals that may be found in your makeup bag, your laundry detergent, and your child’s toy chest. Studies have shown they inhibit fertility in both men and women, yet the FDA still allows them to be used in products you utilize every day. When it comes to cleaning products, the potential for harm can be even more frightening.

The problem is that there seems to be far too many barriers to actually banning the use of harmful chemicals in this country, which means that you have to work to educate yourself and limit exposure as much as possible. Watch labels and look up anything you don’t recognize. Use natural options whenever you can, particularly when it comes to cleaning products and anything you apply directly to your body. Vinegar and baking soda can actually provide a better cleaning quality than anything you may buy at the store, and using them is far safer than the chemicals we don’t yet know enough about.

The Foods You Eat

Pesticides and hormones carry the biggest threat when it comes to the foods you eat, but even the overproduction of many items for sale today should raise some red flags.

Let’s just think about this logically for a moment. Foods which have been genetically modified or pumped full of chemicals and hormones to increase growth or production may look pretty at the store, but what risks do they carry when you actually ingest them? Those chemicals and hormones can actually throw your entire body out of stasis, interfering with your reproductive systems and altering your own natural hormonal balance.

That is why eating a whole foods and organic diet is so important. Look at the labels on some of the food items in your pantry right now. How often are you able to recognize all the ingredients listed? When it comes to anything pre-packaged, the answer is probably not all that often. Out of all those ingredients, the potential for harm increases for each of those unrecognizable elements. Even for those you are able to sit down and research yourself, there is always the possibility that studies simply haven’t been conducted yet to assess safety.

But with organic food items purchased while still in their whole foods state, you know exactly what you are getting. Unlike tomato sauce in a jar, you can identify a whole tomato and recognize the components that go into the tomato sauce you make yourself.

Obviously, there is more work involved in a whole foods diet, and the cost of eating organic is absolutely higher. But the overall benefits to your health and fertility are worth educating yourself on when it comes to what you are putting into your body. When all else fails, at least adhere to an organic diet for meat, dairy and the “dirty dozen” – the 12 most contaminated produce items at the store:

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Eating organic supports fertility health

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Hot Peppers
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes

The Air You Breathe

Air pollutants have been found to reduce fertility in both men and women. It makes sense when you think about it – paint fumes, car exhaust, and factory emissions; it all combines to create unhealthy smog in more urban areas. If you can actually see the pollution in the air, doesn’t it stand to reason that it could be harming your body as you breathe it?

The problem is that you don’t have to see pollution in order for it to be harmful. Studies have found that those with the highest exposure to these pollutants tend to have a harder time getting pregnant, but any level could be potentially reducing your chances. So, the goal becomes to reduce exposure as much as possible. If you can, consider moving to a more rural area and utilize items such as air purifiers around your home to create a cleaner environment at least within your own safe haven.

The Choices You Make

Yes, lifestyle choices have an effect on your fertility. And the toxins you choose to consume could be inhibiting not only your chances of conception, but also the chances of those around you. For women who smoke, there is an increased risk of miscarriages and trouble conceiving. But you don’t have to be the one taking puffs for your fertility to suffer. Exposure to secondhand smoke can also lead to reduced fertility for both men and women. Obviously, if you or your spouse is a smoker, now is the time to quit. Take it a step further though, and remove yourself from any situation where smoking is taking place. This isn’t always an easy thing to do, but reducing your exposure is the best way to avoid the negative effects to your fertility.

When it Comes to Plastics

BPA has become a common household term, rarely ever referred to by its full name – Bisphenol A. This is a chemical that has been used in the past to harden plastics, although many newer plastic manufactures have moved away from using it as the potential hazards have gained more recognition. Exposure to BPA has been linked to reduced egg quality and hormonal imbalances. Most plastics today now contain a “BPA Free” label, to let consumers know the product has been deemed safe.

Of course, “safe” is relative, and the truth is – we still don’t know enough about the other chemicals used in the production of plastic. Even if BPA is not in play, there may still be reason for concern. As such, taking a step away from the use of plastics in your home could prove beneficial. Opt for glass containers whenever possible, and never, under any circumstances, microwave food in a plastic container – it is believed that heating plastic may actually cause the chemicals to leach into your food.

Tackling the Problem

Avoiding all the toxins in your environment would be an impossible feat but, by remaining aware of the potential hazards, you can begin to make a dent in your current exposure. Try employing an 80/20 rule, where you attempt to eliminate 80% of the toxins in your home and foods. Sometimes even this may not be possible, but making an effort can only improve your overall health and well-being.


Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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    Thanks for this info.! It’s quite overwhelming. What are the most important areas of toxins to try to avoid?

    • Dear AC,

      I understand the overwhelm indeed. I think a great first step is to transition from eating conventional meat product (including dairy and eggs) to organic and grass-fed, as well as choosing to eat only the “Dirty Dozen” foods organic. I personally feel body care products are the next best area of focus for women.

      Make small changes where you can!