Before I tell you how to limit your exposure to these so called "fertility disrupting chemicals," I'd probably better explain what they are in the first place!! So...
What are fertility disrupting chemicals?
Fertility, or endocrine disrupting chemicals, are chemicals that mess with the normal functioning of your endocrine (hormone) system. In addition to regulating you fertility, your endocrine system also regulates many other things including your metabolism, your emotions and moods and your sleep.
Fertility disrupting chemicals can “disrupt” our bodies’ normal and healthy functioning in one of several ways: they may block normal hormone production, cause excessive hormone production, mimic hormones your body produces, and even change the way your body responds to certain hormones.
You’ve probably heard that chemicals like BPA, phthalates, PCBs, and many pesticides are bad for your fertility. But you might be surprised to learn that high fructose corn syrup and monosodium glutamate are also fertility disruptors.
To help you make some informed decisions and changes, I’ve put together a list of eight relatively easy things you can do to lower your exposure to these chemicals and help maximize your fertility naturally.
First though, a note about this list and your fertility stress level:
It is not my intention that after reading this article, or any article about lifestyle changes, you go out and completely overhaul your life. There is no better way to create unnecessary stress than that, and one of my main missions is helping women working through infertility to limit their stress levels! Instead, the purpose of this article is to give you information so that you can go out and make small changes where they make sense in your life.
The truth is that these chemicals are everywhere these days. Short of moving to an undeveloped area, leaving all your technology behind, growing all your own food and living completely off the grid, you’re never going to be able to escape them completely. And that’s ok. You do what you can without driving yourself nuts to limit your exposures, and that can make a big difference in not just your fertility, but your overall, long-term health.
With that said, let’s get on to the list!
1. Get a New Water Bottle
Plastic water bottles, even those labeled BPA-free, leach fertility disrupting chemicals into your water. Choose one made of stainless steel or glass instead.
2. Store Your Food in Glass Containers
Just as with the water bottles, plastic storage containers will leach fertility disrupting chemicals into your food. And if you put them in the microwave, they’ll leach even more! Switch to glass and don’t put the plastic lids in the microwave. Metal is fine too, but obviously not microwaveable.
3. Filter Your Water
Even if you live somewhere with good tasting, “healthy” water, you’re still getting some of the heart medicine that Jack peed out, and Jill’s extra birth control pills that she flushed down the toilet. If it wasn’t prescribed for you, you don’t want to be taking it!
And don’t get a filter with a plastic pitcher because, well, see above. :)
4. Ask for a Digital Receipt
Register paper has BPA in it, and when you touch the paper you actually absorb some of the BPA through your skin. Yuck.
5. Try a Fragrance-Free Soap
The yummy smells we all like are frequently created using BPA or other phthalates; they’re in there to make the smell stronger and longer lasting. Switching to fragrance-free soaps, shampoos, and laundry detergents is a great way to lower your exposure to fertility disrupting chemicals.
6. Wash Your Hands
If anything good has come from the pandemic, I suppose it might be that we’ve all gotten pretty good at washing our hands regularly. As you go through your day touching things, you pick up lots of substances including fertility disrupting chemicals. Washing your hands gets all that stuff off before you touch your eyes, nose or mouth and put it into your body.
7. Don’t Wear Your Shoes in the House
The bottoms of your shoes pick up all kinds of bad-for-you-yuck as you walk around in the world. Don’t bring it into your space.
8. Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup and MSG
This is a particularly important point for women who have been diagnosed with PCOS.
High fructose corn syrup and monosodium glutamate (MSG) aren’t technically considered endocrine disrupting chemicals, but I’m including them because they are things we frequently put in our bodies that can have a negative effect on fertility.
Isn’t all sugar the same?
No, it’s not.
The chemical make-up of high fructose corn syrup is different from both table sugar and the sugars found naturally in fruits and vegetables, and your body responds differently, too. High fructose corn syrup causes a spike in blood sugar levels without causing a spike in insulin to process it. Instead, it gets processed in your liver which deals with it by creating extra fat. Additionally, unlike other foods, high fructose corn syrup doesn’t trigger the production of leptin, the hormone that tells your body it’s full, so you’re more likely to eat too much.
When you mess with your metabolism and the way the body functions, there are repercussions for all your body’s systems including the reproductive system.
Then there’s MSG.
Monosodium glutamate makes foods taste good, but it’s also a known appetite stimulant (meaning it might make you eat more than you normally would). And there’s evidence that it contributes to reproductive problems and obesity. MSG is most commonly found in canned foods, fast food, and other highly processed foods. And because food producers want to trick you into buying their products, you will often find MSG disguised under the names autolyzed yeast, yeast extract, hydrolyzed protein and glutamic acid.
So there you have it. Eight ways you can reduce your exposure to fertility disrupting chemicals and make yourself healthier overall.