5 Tips To Ditch Environmental Toxins & Improve Fertility
Fertility struggles are challenging – add in the overwhelming topic of environmental toxins and most folks’ eyes start to glaze over. Yet, we know that exposures to common chemicals in the environment can have a real impact on fertility and pregnancy outcomes. In fact, The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) even created a position statement in 2016 urging OB/GYNs to counsel their patients on the importance of avoiding environmental exposures whenever possible during the preconception and prenatal period.
While we may be tempted to avoid the subject because it can seem so overwhelming, my advice is to take it step by step. Start with the advice listed below and change one habit at a time. The good news is that once the exposure is removed, many chemical levels in the body start to decrease within days! And remember that limiting environmental exposures is critical for both partners – both egg and sperm health are impacted by toxins.
Step 1: Avoid Plastics
Plastics are a common source of BPA which is a known endocrine disruptor. It is especially important to avoid heating up food in plastic containers or with cling wrap on top. Invest in stainless steel or glass containers for water and food storage.
Step 2: Eat Organic
Unfortunately, pesticide residues on food are absorbed into the body and can impact both male and female factor fertility. Focusing on a plant forward diet with as much organic produce as possible is a major step towards optimizing fertility. It is especially important to avoid the Dirty Dozen – an annual list created by EWG.org listing the food with highest pesticide burden.
Step 3: Stop using Pesticides
Discontinue any insecticide, pesticide of herbicide treatments in and around the house.
Step 4: Upgrade your personal care products
Anything we put on our skin ends up in our bloodstream. Personal care products add to overall toxin burden especially when used daily or covering a large surface area (like soap or lotion). Be especially mindful of fragrances which are often sources of phthalates. As you run out of products, check their rating on skindeep.org or the app Think Dirty. Replace them with less toxic options. Conventional products with fragrances like air fresheners, fabric softeners and perfumes are a hard pass.
Step 5: Be Mindful of Metals
Heavy metals are pervasive in our environment and are found in air, water and food. Check out your tap water levels at https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/ and consider getting a filter. Be mindful of fish consumption and focus on low-mercury options like wild salmon and sardines. Check out https://www.ewg.org/research/ewgs-good-seafood-guide for more options.
If you have concerns about your level of exposure and/or are interested in testing, reach out to a doctor who has experience and training in Environmental Medicine.
About Dr. Caitlin O'Connor
Caitlin O’Connor is a Naturopathic Doctor. Dr. Caitlin graduated from Bastyr University, a five-year accredited program that included a two-year internship at the school’s Seattle clinic. She completed an additional one-year Family Practice residency at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. In addition, she earned a certificate in Naturopathic Midwifery, participating in the births of over 100 babies, including serving in the labor and delivery ward of the only hospital on the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific. While she does not currently attend births, she draws from her experience with moms and babies every day.
Dr. Caitlin provides Naturopathic care for women and children. She pairs a philosophy of patient-centered, whole body, individualized care with an emphasis on nutrition, botanical medicine and a balanced approach to healthy living. For women, she has a focus on gut health, hormonal balance, optimal mood and energy with a specialty in enhancing preconception health and fertility, supporting a healthy pregnancy and balanced postpartum. She also enjoys providing safe, effective options for children’s health and wellness – especially optimizing gut health, immunity and nutrition.
In addition, to her clinical work, Dr. Caitlin was instrumental in the regulation of naturopathic medicine in the State of Colorado. She continues to be active politically and works to build bridges across the medical professions.