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Hormone Disruption – what is it and what it means for you

Going through IVF is a difficult process, whether it is 1 cycle or 20 it can feel like a bit of a lottery with so many factors in play. Many of these factors are also out of your control. But there is one thing that you are absolutely in control of – the products you use on your body and in your home and these can contribute to your success.

You may have heard the term Hormone Disrupting Chemicals or Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals thrown around as something to avoid but what does it actually mean.

Well, Hormone Disrupters are chemicals that mimic, block or interfere with hormones in the body’s endocrine system. These chemicals are well documented as interfering with the body’s normal reproductive functioning and can cause changes in hormone levels, decreased sperm and egg quality. If you are trying to get pregnant and especially if you are going through IVF the last thing you need is anything messing with and potentially lowering your or your partners fertility.

What to avoid:

  • Parabens – often used as a preservative or in anti bacterial products
  • Bisphenols (BPA/ BPS/ BPF) – widely used in plastic products, the lining of cans and food receipts
  • Phthalates – added to plastics, toys, footwear, food packaging, medical plastic tubing and personal care products.
  • Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) – used in electrical devices and flame retardant in furniture.
  • Pesticides, herbicides and insecticides – sprayed on food products and crops
  • Heavy metals – cigarettes, air pollution, dental fillings, petrol etc

My top tips to lessen the impact of Hormone Disrupters:

  1. Wash your hands often avoiding fragranced or antibacterial soap especially prior to eating, chemicals can be removed off your skin with this simple step.
  2. Consider your furnishing. Flame retardant chemicals are often used in electronics and furniture and off gassing (the release of harmful chemicals into the air) can take years. It may be worthwhile delaying any new purchases or alternatively purchasing second hand instead. Vacuuming and dusting frequently can also reduce the effects.
  3. Avoid product with ‘fragrances’ and phthalates, whilst they may smell pretty they are almost certainly packed full of Hormone Disrupters. Take a moment to consider every product that is entering your home, even your humble bin bags may be polluting your space.
  4. Reduce your use of plastics and use glass or stainless steel instead. Plastic containers are a common source of both bisphenol-A (BPA) and Phthalates.
  5. Choose fresh, organic foods over canned. Food cans are often lined with BPA. Certain pesticides are also known Hormone Disrupters and should be avoided where possible.
  6. Use an air purifier to remove air pollutants especially if you live close to a busy road or have furniture that is new or only a few years old.

Knowledge is power and in this cause whilst it can seem like Hormone Disrupters are all around us, we have the power to make some simple changes that can dramatically reduce our exposure right now.

Julie x