Fertility and toxicity
I am passionate about looking at environmental toxins. So passionate that I started my own business to help address this issue. But why is toxicity such an important subject?
We only need to look at fertility to see the importance with this message. Fertility and subfertility have become big business over the last couple of decades.
But first what is toxicity?
According to MedicineNet toxicity is the degree to which a substance (a toxin or poison) can harm humans or animals. But let us be clear here anything in excess that causes cellular, or organ damage is considered a toxin as the definition is degree of change or the dosage. So even some vitamins and minerals given in excess can cause toxicity.
Toxicity can be further defined by either acute or chronic exposure. Acute being a once off exposure that the body will try to deal with and clear. This is not always possible when you consider venom or snake bites! Sometimes bodies are not able to deal with these and they cause organ failure.
Chronic toxin exposure is long term exposure to toxins that may cause cellular and or organ damage. This is the area that I am addressing with low toxic lifestyle suggestions. We are exposed chronically to exposures every day.
Where are you exposed to toxins?
- In your home
- At work
- In the environment
- In your food
- In your medications
When you are chronically exposed to these toxins they can interfere with your hormones. They do this by either blocking them, altering they way they are expressed, or they even mimic them.
Now we all know that we have an inbuilt detoxification system. But this poor system works overtime these days as the level of toxins in our environment increases. When it can not handle the daily load, then those issues mentioned above start to happen.
So how does this affect Fertility?
Any gland that produces hormones is called an Endocrine gland, and that includes your reproductive hormones.
Some of the chemicals that can affect our Endocrine hormones include BPA’s, Parabens, Triclosan, Sodium saccharin, Benzophinone and Phtlates, which are especially harmful to sperm production. We can also include herbicides and organophosphates which we find in food.
Male infertility, which makes up 40% of fertility issues, has been shown to be impacted by over 1480 different types of endocrine disrupting chemicals. While female fertility showed a more moderate impact.
The decline in sperm count, and sperm quality can no longer be debated, there is clear evidence telling us, especially in Westernized countries, that this is a big issue. It is also telling us along with obesity, lifestyle, alcohol use and smoking, that environmental toxins have a part to play in this issue.
Male fertility can be affected by problems with sperm production and transport including:
- Blocked/absent vas deferens (tubes)
- Low sperm number and or quality
- High numbers of abnormal shaped sperm
- Anti-sperm antibodies
- Failed sperm production.
Female fertility can be affected by:
- Fallopian tube issues
- Ovulation disorders
So how serious is toxin exposure to fertility?
These endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) and other potentially toxic chemicals can be found in everyday products such as shampoos, toothpastes, soaps, house cleaning products, deodorants, cosmetics, clothing, carpets, linen, toys, and body inks. These EDCs have also been identified in our food and water.
That is an exceptionally long list. And this still doesn’t include what is going on in the environment or the work-place.
Ask any alternative practitioner who deals in fertility and hormones, and they will tell you that reduction of environmental pollutants is a key treatment aim. Reducing your bodies toxin load and reducing oxidative stress will most definitely help when you are considering your hormonal health.
Reducing this toxic load is also a key part of my prenatal program. This idea is about producing the most health egg and sperm to pass on your DNA. Prenatal work usually looks at 3 months prior to becoming pregnant. This is the time it takes to produce the egg and sperm.
There has been evidence now that taking this extra time to provide the best quality DNA material makes for a healthier Mumma in pregnancy along with reducing the risk factors associated with pregnancy.
Research also tells us that fetal programming, that is the intrauterine environment, is associated with adult type diseases. These include an increased risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease of those fetuses that are exposed to a nutrient deficient environment.
So if you are looking to fall pregnant and want to look at your chemical exposure you can down load a list of chemicals and the products they are in. Or you can head The Conscious Spender website and look at all the great non-toxic products you can purchase to improve your home environment. Or if you want nutritional help you can book in to see me.
Mark P. Green, Alexandra J. Harvey, Bethany J. Finger, Gerard A. Tarulli, (2021) Endocrine disrupting chemicals: Impacts on human fertility and fecundity during the peri-conception period. Environmental Research, Volume 194, 2021,110694, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2020.110694.
Krzastek, S. C., Farhi, J., Gray, M., & Smith, R. P. (2020). Impact of environmental toxin exposure on male fertility potential. Translational andrology and urology, 9(6), 2797–2813. https://doi.org/10.21037/tau-20-685
Noonan, K., Corman, H., Schwartz-Soicher, O., & Reichman, N. E. (2013). Effects of prenatal care on child health at age 5. Maternal and child health journal, 17(2), 189–199. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-012-0966-2
Sengupta P, Borges E Jr, Dutta S, Krajewska-Kulak E. Decline in sperm count in European men during the past 50 years. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2018 Mar;37(3):247-255. doi: 10.1177/0960327117703690. Epub 2017 Apr 17. PMID: 28413887.
Authored by Jan Caton – BHSc – Nat, Naturopath and Owner of Magnolia Apothecary and The Conscious Spender. Jan practices in the Dandenong ranges and Kilsyth South.