What’s common in the following – non-stick pans, plastic containers, toothpaste, air fresheners, soy products, salad dressing and candy? Believe it or not, they could all lead to infertility. It’s likely that you’d be skeptical or dismissive of the statement.
Recent studies and researches by scientists, however, suggest that several innocuous daily habits, usage of certain common household products and consumption of several foods can lead to infertility in women. Most of these infertility causing chemicals come from products and materials invented in modern times to make lives easier and replace fast depleting natural resources.
Here’s a list of 10 such chemicals.
Studies have proved that caffeine can prevent an egg from maturing properly. They also suggest that caffeine can reduce muscle activity in the fallopian tubes that carry eggs from a woman’s ovaries to the womb. It is also believed that consumption of caffeine can affect estrogen levels and cause endometriosis associated infertility. Caffeine can be typically found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks and chocolates. Traces of it are also found in herbal products and certain medications prescribed for headache, cold, and allergies.
This chemical food additive can be found in most artificial sweeteners, sodas and anything that claims to be ‘diet friendly’ or ‘sugar free’ – think chewing gums, cocoa mixes, chips, colas, juices, bottled sauces, fruit yogurts, drink mixes and cereal. Aspartame is said to negatively affect a female’s sexual response, change her menstruation cycle and cause infertility. Such sugar alternatives cause the body to release insulin in an attempt to balance the blood sugar levels. Over time, this creates an insulin resistance, which can cause the endocrine system disorder and Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS affects ovulation and the implantation of the ovum.
An environmental health hazard, Xenoestrogen is a synthetic substance that mimics estrogen and can cause estrogen dominance. Also called ‘hormone disruptors’, Xenoestrogen can cause hormonal imbalance and infertility. An overload of estrogen can lead to obesity and over a period of time lead to serious health problems such as ovulation disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, and increased risk of ovarian, uterine and breast cancers. Xenoestrogens can be found in processed and canned goods, perfumes, air fresheners, personal care products, household detergents, plastic food packaging and containers, certain meats and dairy products, pesticides, fertilizers, crop sprays, and industrial products.
Heavy metal intake
An overdose of certain heavy metals like zinc, cadmium and mercury can seriously damage the reproductive system. Some heavy metals are environmental toxins. These include cadmium from cigarette smoke, lead from petrol fumes, house paint and cosmetics, mercury from dental fillings and large oily fish, and aluminum from cookware, toothpastes, deodorants and antiperspirants. It’s difficult for the body to break down heavy metals. This is the reason these metals accumulate in the body and consequently have a negative impact on egg health and quality. The metals also interfere with mineral absorption leading to a deficiency of key minerals required for conception.
Soy has long been looked upon as a healthy protein. It, however, contains compounds that mimic estrogen. Soy contains phytoestrogens (plant derived estrogens) that either work as anti-estrogens by inhibiting estrogen activity or cause estrogen dominance. The body thinks that it is producing too much of its own estrogen and thus lowers its Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) levels. FSH is responsible for stimulating the ovaries in producing eggs. Soy also causes longer cycles and reduced activity of the Luteinizing Hormone responsible for triggering the release of the egg. Also, processed soy foods have large amounts of aluminum that can cause severe harm to the nervous system.
Trans fats or trans fatty acids are monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats that are altered to become semi solid. Heavy inclusion of trans fats in a diet is known to lead to obesity. However, relatively unknown is the fact that trans fat make the body resistant to insulin, amplify the symptoms of PCOS, cause an inflammatory effect that interferes with ovulation and conception, and increase women’s risk for ovulatory infertility. The body finds it difficult to break down these fats and clog up spaces reserved for natural fats. The clogging up of these spaces means that essential nutrients don’t pass through the cells.Trans fats can be found in packaged foods like candy, chips, cereals, salad dressings and margarine, deep fried snacks and commercial baked goods.
Plastic water bottles
Everyone uses plastic bottles to store water, but like most plastic containers, they are harmful for health. Plastic bottles release chemicals called xenohormones, which also mimic estrogen in the body causing hormonal imbalance and fertility issues. Most plastics contain a component called bisphenol A or BPA that can damage developing ovaries, restrict the ability of the embryo to attach to the uterine lining and interfere with the development of uterine cells’. BPA also interferes with enzymes needed to produce estradiol, which is an essential hormone for reproductive development.
Triclosan is the ingredient found in anti-bacterial soaps, detergents, toothpastes and body washes. Studies have suggested that the chemical can increase the risk of infertility, result in early puberty and lead to endocrine hormone-related issues. Triclosan is believed to be a hormone disruptor. It essentially begins to act like a real hormone tricking the body into sending false signals to the brain that can cause an imbalance. This hormone disruptor can affect the reproductive hormones, impacting the way natural sex hormones act and reduce the natural production of estrogen. They can also cause changes in a woman’s menstrual cycle and ovulation that can delay or prevent conception.
MSG (Monosodium L-Glutamate) is a flavor enhancer used in Asian food, packaged chips, soups and fried food, low-fat and no-fat milk, noodles, baby food, shampoos, soaps and conditioners. MSG stimulates the pancreas to produce extra insulin causing it to go out of balance. It affects the pituitary regulation of the ovary cycles and causes an increase in neuro-endocrine disorders such as obesity and infertility. It also over stimulates and damages neurons that affect the pituitary gland, which in turn disrupt the body’s metabolism and sexual development.
Phthalates are chemicals that are used to make plastics flexible. They are also found in personal care products, toiletries, scented products like candles, perfumes and air fresheners, and laundry detergents. It can also be transferred to food items that are packed in plastic food packaging. Phthalates disrupt endocrine, and adversely affect the reproductive system. They act on estrogen pathways resulting in endometriosis and insulin resistance.