In today’s modern lifestyles, we come in contact with many different chemicals and toxins. Whether it’s in what we breath, eat, drink, or touch, it’s impossible to avoid exposure to these (at times) harmful chemicals. EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals), are one particular group of chemicals (typically man-made) that have been found to cause negative effects on male and female reproductive health.
EPCs health impact
Various sources, including WHO (World Health Organization), recognize EDCs as potential contributing causes for altered reproductive function in both males and females, by mimicking or blocking sex hormones ostrogen and testosterone. EDCs can there for cause changes in hormone levels, decreased sperm and egg quality, damage to the DNA in sperm, longer menstrual cycles, taking longer to achieve a pregnancy, increased risk of miscarriage, and earlier menopause. They can also increase the incidence of breast cancer, abnormal growth patterns, neurodevelopmental delays in children, as well as changes in immune function.
Studies have shown that up to 95% of people have EDCs in their system and those with reproductive issues tend to have among the highest levels. EDCs can be transferred from the pregnant mother’s placenta to her developing fetus, and also through breast milk, making them more vulnerable to be affected by developmental exposures, with the effects not becoming evident until later in life. There is also some research to suggest that EPC exposure also increases the susceptibility of non-communicable diseases.
Human exposure to EDCs occurs via ingestion of contaminated food, dust, and water, via inhalation of gases and particles in the air, and via absorption through the skin. They’re up to 800 different artificial EDCs currently utilized in the manufacturing of various materials including pesticides, metals, additives or contaminants in food and personal care products.
Some EDCs are naturally occurring in food, for example in soybeans and flax seeds are high in phytoestrogen compounds which mimic the effects of oestrogen. In moderation, these foods are not harmful, and remain a health and nutritious food to include in the diet for most people.
Types of EDCs
Image source – yourfertility.org.au
Reducing your exposure to EDC
Here are some simple tips to reduce your chemical exposure, and while these are important for everyone to implement, they are particularly important for those planning to achieve pregnancy, are already pregnant, or have small children.
– Choosing organic produce where possible. The Dirty Dozen Clean Fifteen is a great place to start. Also washing all fruit and vegetables is important to remove any chemicals on the surface before consuming.
– Avoiding processed and pre-packaged foods
– Avoiding foods, and especially drinks in soft plastic bottles. Choose hard plastic (BPA free), or even better glass bottles and containers.
– Never heat food in plastic takeaway containers or those covered with cling wrap or foil. If you must use a microwave, use a china or glass dish and cover with paper towel or plate before heating.
– Avoid handling shiny EFTPOS sales receipts
– Opt for organic and natural based skin care, body care, and household cleaning products that don’t contain parabens.
– Avoid air fresheners, smoke, strong chemicals, and heavily perfumed products.
– Avoid using or being around the use of pesticides and herbicides.
– Optimising your health and bodies detoxification process is important to help the body manage and expel chemicals, and avoid toxic overload.
Thanks to Your Fertility for some of these tips, more can be found on their website. Otherwise if you are after some personalized information or assistance, contact Melbourne Natural Medicine Clinic for a full health assessment and fertility guidance. Our qualified and highly experienced Naturopaths work in conjunction with fertility treatments including IVF, assist couples to navigate pre-conception care effectively, and support families to grow happy and healthy babies.