Who would have thought that your home could be affecting your fertility? With 1 in 6 couples infertile, it makes sense to look at a little closer to home, or even inside it, to see what could be contributing to such an alarming rate of infertility.
Plastic and cans: Bisphenol-A (BPA)
BPA is very common in our homes. It is found in food and drink cans, plastic bottles, plastic storage containers, cling wrap, televisions, computer and mobile phone casings and compact disks. BPA is a synthetic oestrogen that may disrupt the endocrine system, disrupt normal reproductive system development and diminish test animals’ intellectual and behavioural capacity.
The impact on male fertility has been studied, with research suggesting that high urine BPA levels may be associated with the decreased sperm concentration, decreased total sperm count, decreased sperm vitality, and decreased sperm motility.
In women, tissues in the uterus, ovaries, hypothalamus and pituitary gland may be affected by BPA and exposure to this chemical may result in a decline in fertility.
Read more on BPA in this article: http://www.blackmores.com.au/learning-centre/article/can-drink-bottles-affect-fertility
Furniture and electronics: Flame retardants
Polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs) are a class of toxic chemicals widely used to prevent the spread of fire. They are likely to be in several products in your home: foam furniture including couches and chairs, carpets, mattresses, foam pillows, televisions, mobile phones and other electronic devices.
PBDEs readily leach into the surrounding environment with 97% of Americans showing detectable levels in their blood. Studies have suggested that PBDEs may affect sex hormone and thyroid hormone balance - both of which play a significant role in regulating the female reproductive cycle. A preliminary study suggested that increased concentrations of PBDEs in women’s blood may be associated with an increased time to fall pregnant.
Perfumes and skin care: Phthalates
Phthalates are used in many cosmetic and personal use products as fragrances to help the product cling to the skin or hair, such as in hair spray. Phthalates are found in other hair products, nail polish, deodorants, antiperspirants, perfumes, soaps, scented candles and air fresheners. Phthalates also make plastics more pliable and easy to shape and so are found in shower curtains, vinyl, garden hoses, and children’s plastic toys.
Phthalates are known endocrine disrupters, meaning they may have the potential to affect the male and female reproductive hormones and have been linked with infertility. Phthalates may also influence the reproductive development of the fetus during pregnancy.
Food, fruit and vegetables: Pesticides
Unless we buy 100% organic produce including meats and dairy products we are susceptible to pesticide exposure through our diet. Even though the worst of the pesticides have been banned from use, they continue to persist in our environment.
Just like the above examples, pesticides may affect fertility and may act as endocrine disrupters. Pesticide exposure may be associated with low sperm count and other reproductive disorders. The developing fetus is at a high risk of exposure of these chemicals as they pass through the placenta.
Detox your home and your body
It is not all gloom and doom. Awareness is the first crucial step. Despite the unavoidable contact with most of these chemicals on a daily basis, there are things that can be done to minimise your exposure and to improve your ability to remove the chemicals from your body when you are exposed:
- Wherever possible avoid foods, storage containers and skin care that contain these chemicals.
- Eat organic. Check out the ‘Dirty Dozen and ‘Clean 15’ http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/
- Check with manufacturers about the use of flame retardants. Choose non-foam alternatives if possible.
- Check out your cleaning and skin care products and only use completely natural ingredients.
- Avoid chemical garden sprays.
- Always eat plenty of fresh vegetables, unprocessed foods and whole grains to ensure you are meeting your nutritional requirements needed for proper elimination of any chemicals you may be exposed to.
- Ensure healthy liver and lymphatic health, and be sure to maintain a healthy weight. Consult a naturopath for individual advice.
- Drink plenty of filtered water.
- Don’t smoke and minimise stress.
Check out this great website that shows just how common these chemicals are in your home and whereabouts they linger so you can start to remove them from your environment: www.everydayexposures.com
References available on request