If you are thinking about conceiving, there are a lot of ways you can optimize your fertility and support a successful, healthy pregnancy. One of those ways is through a fertility detox. No, not some phony cleanse that you only do once. A fertility detox actually consists of a long term, lifestyle change that supports not only your reproductive health but also your overall health.
As many of you know, I’m a mom to six and I have a passion for all things health and wellness. Although I have been into holistic health for many years and approach the human body from a holistic perspective, we have suffered our fair share of challenges over the years. If I had been more tuned into what my body was telling me during my first pregnancy, I would have been able to avoid a near-death experience for both my son and I. Thankfully, God was watching over us both and I went on to have five more healthy pregnancies and children. Moral of the story, I’m passionate about helping women optimize their fertility, and a fertility detox is one tool I often recommend.
In this article, I’m going to share why you should consider a fertility detox and ten ways to detox for better fertility outcomes.
Are Toxins a Problem for Women Trying to Conceive?
Toxins are a real problem for women trying to conceive. One of the most important things you can do to optimize your fertility is to avoid environmental toxins. I know, this can be difficult when the world is inundated with chemicals and heavy metals. They are literally everywhere!
The food you eat, the air you breath, the water you drink, and even the personal care products you use everyday can contain harmful chemicals.
Research from 2004 found 287 chemicals in the umbilical cord of babies. This includes mercury, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, organochlorine pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Of those chemicals, 180 are known carcinogens, 217 are neurotoxins, and 208 are known to cause birth defects or developmental abnormalities in animal studies.
Other research found that even randomly selected samples of cord blood tested positive nine of 10 times for bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial petrochemical and synthetic estrogen used in plastics.
Here’s the deal, your ongoing exposure to toxins can have a large and lasting impact on your health and the health of your baby.
Does Toxin Exposure Affect Babies?
Based on the research above, there is no doubt your baby is also exposed to the toxic chemicals you encounter each day. Common sense tells us that if those chemicals are bad for you, they must not be good for the baby either.
A growing baby in the womb is uniquely vulnerable to mom’s toxic exposure via placental transfer. Scientists used to think the placenta shielded the baby from most chemicals and pollutants, but now they are not so sure. The evidence of chemicals in umbilical cord blood indicates a significant cause for concern.
For example, the Endocrine Society presented research in 2018 on how exposure to BPA during pregnancy, even at very low levels, can lead to altered brain development and behavior of offspring later in life. As an occupational therapist, I have witnessed the sharp increase in autism and ADHD over the last 22 years. We can attribute to many things including the Standard American Diet, stress, and the overwhelming toxic soup we live in on a daily basis.
Does Toxin Exposure Affect Fertility?
At this point, you shouldn’t be shocked that toxin exposure affects fertility especially if you have followed me for any length of time.
Endocrine disruptors, or chemicals that disrupt the balance of your hormones, are implicated in a host of hormonal issues and reproductive disorders in women including:
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Premature ovarian failure (POF)
- Decreased ovarian reserve
- Uterine fibroids
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Disruption of female reproductive tract development
When to Start a Fertility Detox?
If you are reading this and you are already pregnant, don’t get stressed out. Rather than go on a full blown detox which I do not recommend during pregnancy, there are other ways to optimize your health throughout pregnancy. However, if you are just now thinking of trying to conceive, time is on your side.
Three to six months prior to conception is the most optimal time to start a fertility detox. This is because your follicles are recruited every 3 months, which means you’ll get the best chance at healthier eggs.
Not only that, toxins accumulate over years and are stored in your fat, bones, and organs so you want to give your body plenty of time to get rid of those toxins before conception.
10 Ways to Fertility Detox
Now, if you have a condition suggestive of environmental toxicity, known toxic exposures, or genetic polymorphisms like MTHFR, you should work with a skilled holistic professional or functional medicine practitioner. They will conduct comprehensive tests to identify the underlying cause and guide appropriate detoxification.
That being said, here are ten simple ways to fertility detox!
Start Eating Organic
Pesticides are dangerous not only for female fertility but also for sperm health. They are also likely to increase your chance of miscarriage. Even if you can’t eat all organic, try and use the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen guides to prioritize buying organic.
Swap Your Cosmetics
Choose non-toxic options instead of name-brand makeup products. What goes on your body is absorbed quickly into your bloodstream. Throw away your old cosmetics and in three days you’ll have drastically reduced your toxic load. It is important to remember that your skin is like all other organs. My rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t eat it, I definitely would not put it on your skin.
Filter Drinking Water
Unfortunately, endocrine disruptors can be found in your drinking water. It is very hard to filter out phthalates, heavy metals, and other endocrine disruptors from drinking water. A good quality water filter will help you keep your drinking water safe.
Stop Using Plastic Cookware
Yes, this also means you need to ditch your plastic coffee maker (that means you, Keurig!). Sorry, but not sorry! Hot food, oil, and boiling water touching plastic are how phthalates get into your food and beverages. Instead you can use a glass drip system for coffee, wood or stainless utensils, glass and cast iron bakeware, stainless accessories and glass mixing and measuring bowls.
Stop Eating and Drinking from Plastic
Avoid buying things in plastic whenever you can. Avoid soft plastic water bottles, and never microwave plastic or put it in the dishwasher. Throw away your old Tupperware and use glass, stainless or ceramic containers. For home storage you can use glass Pyrex, mason jars, and stainless canisters with labels. For water bottles use glass or high quality stainless.
Stop Eating Food From Cans
Most cans are lined in BPA, but even those that are “BPA-free” are still lined with phthalates. Buy fresh, eat fresh.
Clean Regularly with a HEPA-filter vacuum
Try and damp-dust and vacuum with a HEPA-filter vacuum at least once a week. Phthalates live in the dust in our homes. When eliminating dust, you need to make sure you aren’t just pushing it around, or breathing it in. That’s why a HEPA filter vacuum is so important.
Filter Your Air
If you don’t have an air filter for your whole house, consider investing in one for your bedroom. You are breathing in that air for 7-8 hours every night. Make sure it is free of harmful VOCs, phthalates, and any other irritants! And, when you can, open up your windows and doors when it is nice outside to air things out.
Exercise supports whole body health. Regular, moderate exercise promotes regular detoxification of excess hormones and toxins from the body by increasing circulation and the amount of fresh oxygen you breathe in, strengthening the muscles, reducing stress and tension, and stimulating digestion.
What You Do Every Day Matters Most
Remember, what you do every day matters more for your fertility than any single fertility detox. That’s why I support lifestyle changes made through small steps that ultimately lead to bigger shifts in your health.
If you’re interested in optimizing your fertility, reach out to me! As a fertility coach and practitioner of functional medicine, I’m here to help you start your journey to better fertility outcomes and optimized health.