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4 Steps To Protect Your Fertility (And Baby’s Health!) From Environmental Harm

There’s something we need to talk about.  Exposures to environmental toxicants may be wreaking havoc on your fertility and changing how your genes are expressed - changes that can be passed on to your baby and can last for generations.  According to guidelines by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, an environmental history should be part of the assessment for every person dealing with infertility (1).  They note that the relative risk of infertility is 40% higher when exposed to environmental toxicants (2).  


If you think the problem isn’t widespread or only affects a few people, think again.

Male reproductive problems alone due to routine exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals from pesticides and personal care products are estimated to cost Nordic countries EUR 36 million per year of exposure (3). This number only looks at men and doesn’t take into account the health impacts for future generations.  It’s just one of many statistics out there describing a big problem that isn’t effectively being addressed.


So what do you do about it?


Reducing exposure to these chemicals in your environment is the best thing, but it isn’t always easy.  Many people don’t know where to look or are overwhelmed when they realize how prevalent chemicals are. I still work on getting better at it all the time.  


There are few steps you can start with that don’t require too many day-to-day habit changes and can significantly decrease exposure to some of the most harmful chemicals for your fertility and the health of your growing family.


Toxins and Fertility

1. Get A Really Good Water Filter


Why:

Municipal water supplies are commonly not up to code on what they are supposed treat for and remove from your drinking water.  Think Flint, Michigan where they STILL don’t have the lead issue under control.


Many chemicals like pharmaceuticals and manufacturing chemicals are simply not regulated at all in public drinking water.


Some chemicals used to treat the water are in and of themselves harmful.  Chlorine for example is linked to hypothyroidism, which is a known cause of recurrent miscarriage and infertility.  


Sometimes harmful compounds (like lead) can come from the pipes between the treatment center and your home or workplace, so you would never know it’s there unless you have water tested at the faucet regularly.


Bottled water is regulated by different standards than municipal supplies and has many of the same issues.


What to do:

  • A high quality whole house reverse osmosis filter with a carbon component and remineralization would be ideal.  Unfortunately, this is not in many people’s budget.

  • A Berkey water filter paired with a chlorine filter for the shower is a great alternative.

  • For more info about your specific water supply, check out www.ewg.com/tapwater


2. Eat Organic Whenever Possible (4)


Why:

One study showed that men at a fertility clinic who consumed 1.5 servings of high pesticide fruits and veggies/day had 49% lower total sperm volume and 31% lower morphology!


Several studies show decreased male fertility in relation to level of organophasphate exposure - a very common group of pesticides including decreased sperm concentration, motility, and chromosomal abnormalities.


Many pesticides are also potent neurotoxins that can impact a developing baby.  Some are also linked to cancer through dietary exposure.


What to Do:

  • Eat more meals at home and purchase organic food whenever it is available.  This is particularly important for animal products which can concentrate some chemicals.

  • You don’t have to be 100% perfect: A diet consuming over 50% organic foods was associated with higher sperm counts.  Only that previous year of exposure was relevant. That means it’s not too late to make a change!


3. Replace Your Personal Hygiene Products with Safer Versions


Why: