Erin Westaway, ND 2018
There are a few sneaky things in your day to day life that can wreak havoc on your ability to get pregnant. Making these simple changes can make a big difference in your ability to conceive and can also decrease your risk of some cancers.
However, once you DO get pregnant, paying attention to these will help keep your baby healthy - including decreasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and infertility as they grow.
Most plastics, especially flexible ones contain plasticizers to keep them malleable. While these add great convenience to our lives, they are also quite toxic and can wreak havoc on your fertility. Many of them directly interfere with estrogen in the body. They are known to be toxic to the reproductive organs as well as increasing obesity. You are likely aware of BPA, but are probably not aware of all the places that it hides, like cash register receipts! You replaced your plastic water bottle with a BPA free one, but if it’s still plastic it probably contains BPS or BPFwhich are potentially worse, but have gotten less press. Phthalates are another type of plasticizer with similar issues. It’s important to know that we absorb these through our skin quite well, so the more you do to decrease your exposure even through touching them the better. You don’t have to wear gloves everywhere, but where you can avoid plastics, do so.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has even put out a statement about the harmful effects of these chemicals leaching into food from packaging.
What to do?
• Don’t take your receipt at the store.
• Get rid of any plastic food storage containers and replace with glass or stainless
steel. Definitely never heat food in plastic.
• Try to choose food that is not in plastic packaging at the grocery store. Sometimes
you won’t be able to do this, but make the choice anywhere you can.
• Get rid of your plastic mugs and water bottles and replace them with glass or
• Replace plastic wrap and plastic baggies with waxed cotton - it’s re-usable and
much safer on your food.
2. Personal Care Products:
Here I’m talking about anything you put your on your body including soap, lotion, shampoo,
toothpaste, perfume, make-up, hair products, and just about anything else you can think of. It also includes your cleaning products and laundry detergent. Most mainstream products in this category contain a large number of ingredients that directly interfere with hormone balance.
Parabens are the most well known. Many products also contain formaldehyde and other
suspicious ingredients. The problem is that most people have no idea how to read for and
recognize these in their products. For example if your product contains the word “perfume” or “fragrance” in the ingredient list, that almost always means parabens are present. Even some products labeled as “natural” contain these ingredients and you should also look out for the 70% Organic label. What is in the other 30% is what you really want to know about.
What to do?
• Start reading labels
• Look for products with ingredients you actually know
• Look up chemical ingredients for safety
• Use the tools at www.ewg.org to find safer options. They even have an app you
can use in the store to scan bar-codes to see how toxic common products are.
3. Your Water:
But isn’t my water filtered and treated if it’s supplied by the city? Yes - sort of. It is filtered and
treated to reduce the amounts of certain harmful substances. Sometimes the chemicals they
use for treatment remain in high enough concentrations to impact your health. For example,
the chlorine that evaporates from your hot water in the shower gets inhaled and can impact
your thyroid - a gland that is very important in fertility. Some substances aren’t measured or
treated at all in the water. One big example of this is are all the break-down products of the
medications. What comes out in urine goes down the drain and into the water, but doesn’t
necessarily get filtered out. That can include everything from extra hormones from birth control to chemotherapy - things that wouldn’t exactly help you get pregnant.
What to do?
• Filter the water you drink. If you can afford it, I recommend a filter like the
Berkey, which does a great job of taking out chlorine, most drugs, and many
other things you’d rather not be ingesting. There are other options as well.
Whatever you get, look for stats on what it filters and what it doesn’t.
• Get a shower head filter to reduce chlorine. It won’t filter out much more
than that, because the water travels through it too fast, but it will reduce your
chlorine exposure and your skin will be less dry as well. They cost about
$40-$60 and don’t require any tools it install.
While there are many other sources of toxicity that may be impacting your fertility, you can
have a big impact on your hormones, your health, and the health of your future baby and the
environment by making these simple changes. It might take a couple of months to replace the products you’re used to using, but it’s worth it!
Dr. Erin Westaway, is a naturopathic physician in Seattle, WA specializing in helping couples to improve health and fertility. She enjoys working with couples who want to optimize their health before getting pregnant as well as couples who are struggling to conceive. She is also happy to work with couples to support them with natural means while goingthrough a medical process such as IVF.
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