Are Environmental Toxins
Harming Your Fertility?

Written & Edited by: Dr. Will Haas, MD, MBA & Dr. Ashley Eskew MD, MSCI

Last updated: June 4th, 2020

Enviromental Toxins

 

Pro-fertility diet 

Regular exercise 

Mindfulness practice 

Your fertility optimization plan is starting to come together! 

But what about environmental toxins ???

Every day we are exposed to toxins in our environment, from the food we eat to the products we use. And although we have built-in detoxification systems to help neutralize these threats, we are often exposed to toxins at a rate that exceeds our body’s ability to clear them. 

One of the most troubling things about environmental toxins is that we often don’t recognize their impact on the body until serious issues arise.

What Are Environmental Toxins?

Generally speaking, a toxin is a poisonous substance that can negatively interrupt our normal biological functions and lead to disease. 

Environmental toxins are a group of human-made chemicals – as well as naturally occurring compounds – that we are exposed to, either directly or indirectly, over the course of our day-to-day lives.

Naturally occurring environmental toxins include things such as:

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    Arsenic 

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    Cadmium

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    Lead

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    Mercury

Human-made chemical toxins include:

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    BPA

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    Pesticides

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    Phthalates

In large doses, environmental toxins are well known to negatively affect human health, resulting in anything from developmental issues to organ failure or even death. 

In smaller doses, the impact of environmental toxins may not be immediately noticeable but can contribute to life-altering conditions such as cancer or infertility.

Factors Increasing the Potential Risk of Toxins

Susceptibility to environmental toxins varies from person-to-person and can be affected by a variety of factors.

Some of the most important factors determining the impact of environmental toxins on the body include:

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    Liver and kidney health

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    Occupation 

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    Genetics

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    Diet

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    Body fat

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    Immune system capacity

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    Microbiome composition

The Top 3 Environmental Toxins Threatening Your Fertility

To review the list of all the potential environmental toxins would be quite long, and well beyond even our nerdy attention spans. 

Instead, there are 3 categories of environmental toxins we suggest focusing your attention on given their impact on reproductive health. And over the course of the next several posts, we will discuss the following toxins:

  1. Heavy metals…

    just because they are natural doesn’t mean they are harmless.

  2. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals…

    essential to everyday convenience items, and a menace to hormonal health.

  3. Pesticides…

    helpful to grow crops, but not so nourishing to our bodies.

Everyday Strategies to Reduce Toxin Exposure

To truly limit your exposure to environmental toxins that can threaten fertility, you need to have a deeper understanding of how we are exposed to each of these toxins in the first place. 

However, before we dive into all the science over the posts to come, we thought it best to give you a few everyday strategies to reduce your toxin exposure.

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    Use non-toxic personal care products. Many of your favorite everyday products likely contain a wide variety of ingredients that can harm fertility – luckily safer options are available.

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    Mop and dust regularly. Dr. Haas hates dusting but has gotten on board with this necessary household chore after learning that toxic chemicals like lead, flame retardants and pesticides are present in household dust. Don’t let those dusty bunnies build up.

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    Clean with non-toxic products. Just like those personal care products, cleaning products are packed with several ingredients that can harm fertility. There are many effective yet safe products on the market as well as a number of natural cleaners courtesy of mother nature.

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    Remove your shoes outside. Your fancy footwear (and comfy sneakers too) are serious carriers of toxins into your home. Kick them off and lounge around in your slippers.

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    Limit foods high in saturated animal fat. Certain toxic chemicals build up in animal fat more than others and are then introduced into our bodies when we eat them. Yet another reason to give plant-based proteins a try (check out our post on proteins for more reasons why you should eat plant protein while TTC).

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    Avoid pesticides and herbicides. No one would willingly drink a bottle of water weed killer, but their residues are found on many foods. Whenever possible, eat organic food, and always wash your produce. If organic is not realistic, choose fruits and vegetables with the least pesticide residue (the topic of our final blog in the environmental toxins mini-series).

These are just some general actions to start implementing today. Make sure to check out more detailed actions related to specific toxins in our other posts.

Final Thoughts

When they are first brought to your attention, the topic of environmental toxins can be quite scary. They still frighten us after working to minimize them from our lives. 

But they need NOT be one more thing that keeps you up at night while trying to conceive. 

The most important thing is to educate yourself on common exposure sources and work to limit them… SPOILER ALERT: Limiting your exposure is much more practical (while still being hugely beneficial for reproductive health) than trying to completely eliminate your contact with every environmental toxin possible. 

Let’s get smart about our exposure to environmental toxins together. 

With Love & Empowerment,
Dr. Ashley Eskew and Dr. Will Haas
P.S. Don’t forget to check out our individual posts about each of the top 3 environmental toxins threatening your fertility.

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