The Link Between Plastics and Fertility
A special thank you to Dr. Krista Lowe for writing this guest post & shedding some light on how endocrine disruptors impact fertility.
It can be frustrating when you and your partner are ready to bring a baby into the world and those two pink lines haven’t shown up on the pregnancy test yet. Fertility is complex and there are many factors that can contribute to your chances of pregnancy. Health conditions (such as PCOS, endometriosis, thyroid conditions, etc.) can affect your fertility status, which can leave a couple feeling out of control. It’s always important to know that your fertility status is not your fault! Today I am going to write about one specific lifestyle factor/habit to consider while trying to maximize your chances of becoming pregnant.
This being endocrine disruptors! Endocrine disruptors are a type of chemical that can interfere or mimic your own body's hormones. Endocrine disruptors can be found in: plastic bottles, containers, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides (phew!). Your endocrine system is your hormone system which includes things like your ovaries, testicles, thyroid and adrenals. It can be hard to review the exact impact of different endocrine disruptors on humans as people are usually exposed to different chemicals at the same time, however we do know that they can make a big impact on animals. Learning how the outside world affects animals can be the first step to understanding how things can also make an impact on humans.
So how can endocrine disruptors impact fertility?
1. Male fertility: Men’s overall sperm count has been on a decline estimated to be about 50 to 60% over the past 50 years and some research shows that endocrine disruptors (especially phthalate exposure and pesticide exposure) could be a couple of the factors contributing to this decline.
2. Female fertility: In Denmark there was an increased incidence of infertility in women who worked in the plastics industry. Certain EDC’s may cause changes in the menstrual cycle, impair ovarian function/development, and could affect IVF outcomes for those undergoing infertility treatments.
3. Effects in utero: Exposure to EDC’s may impact the reproductive health of future generations. Check out this video to learn more about the effects of EDC’s in utero!
What are some easy swaps to decrease your exposure:
- Water bottles/ coffee cups. Switch out your plastic water bottles/ coffee cups for glass or stainless steel bottles.
- Plastic wrap. Swap your plastic wrap for beeswax wrap!
- Plastic containers. Try to avoid heating your food in plastic containers and look for a container that is made out of glass or stainless steel.
- Receipts. Ask for an emailed receipt when possible as cash register receipts contain EDC’s.
- Cosmetics. Take a look at the ingredients in your cosmetics and swap out your products for ones that are free of EDC’s.
- Reduce pesticide exposure: dietary pesticide exposure may be one factor that could affect conception and fertility outcomes in women. Here is a great guide created by the EWG to help you decide which organic produce to prioritize!
- Eliminate fragranced products in your home, such as air fresheners, candles, and perfumes.
Don’t feel like you have to make these changes overnight and just remember to take small steps when evaluating your EDC exposure!
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About the Author
Dr. Lowe is passionate about working with her patients to help them better understand their health and it’s role in providing a better quality of life.
Dr. Lowe obtained a Bachelor of Science degree with a combined major of Biology and Psychology at the University of Victoria (UVIC). After graduating from UVIC, she went on to pursue her Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in New Westminster. Dr. Lowe returned to Victoria to start her practice, so that she could help others with their health and wellness.
Dr. Lowe is a member in good standing with the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, College of Naturopathic Physicians of BC, and the BC Naturopathic Association.
For more information about Krista Lowe check out her website: