It’s become a virtually universal reality: our bodies are contaminated – without our consent – with up to hundreds of man-made industrial pollutants. Many of these chemicals act like hormones in our bodies, and disrupt our healthy hormonal balance. Dozens of chemicals are known to disrupt both female and male fertility. Babies are being born with more than 200 synthetic chemicals in their umbilical cord blood. And human breast milk contamination is now as widespread as among Inuit women in what is perceived to be Canada’s true northern wilderness.
As one of few naturopathic doctors with a degree in toxicology, I’ve been especially attuned to the dangers of toxicity to human health and fertility for well over a decade. Yet as the studies continually get published, and the reports of profound reproductive toxicity, cancers, autoimmune diseases and toxic effects that persist through multiple human generations, I never cease to feel both appalled and called to greater action in helping align one patient at a time with toxicity-unburdening strategies.
Chemicals can trigger changes in our DNA that are passed down to future generations. This makes toxin avoidance and detoxification essential to your health, and the health of your future children and grandchildren.
1. First, Find the Sources
The majority of our toxin exposure simply comes via our day-to-day lives. Does your water smell like chlorine? That’s toxic. It also contains trace amounts of dozens to hundreds of other chemicals that I can almost guarantee your municipality does not filter out – including pesticides and drugs that your neighbours have metabolized and peed out! Consider reverse osmosis, or try a water filter. At home we use this baby:
This kind of filter is worth its weight in gold, as it removes dozens of chemicals, doesn’t take any energy to run, and makes a perfectly clean tasting water. (P.S. filtered water was an absolute game-changer for my once-in-a-while, cherished treat of a French-pressed organic coffee).
2. Next, Bust That Dust
It has recently shocked me to learn how many toxins are found in plain old household dust! I’ve always had a little peeve about dusting…isn’t it just the most boring and annoying part of cleaning?? Well, since learning that it is tremendously toxic, containing not only the icky remains of what was once our and our pets’ skin, hair, etc. (gross) but also toxins from both indoor and outdoor air PLUS toxins from materials and renovations in your home. This gives me a new-found motivation to bust my dust and it feels sooo satisfying to know it is getting out of the house!!
3. Anything Stinky Has Got to Go
Think heavy-duty cleaners, solvents, paint, glue, permanent markers, car detailing solvents, air fresheners, crafts and hobbies – if you can smell it, it’s probably toxic. See also see “perfumes”, below.
4. Pitch the 5 P’s
Scan through your cosmetics, personal care products, cleaners, and your kitchen. See where you can eliminate the following “P’s” and replace them with natural and non-toxic alternatives.
Petroleum byproducts: these are toxic byproducts of the tar sands industry that have made their way into our bathroom cupboards over the last two generations: petrolatum, mineral oil, Vaseline, petroleum jelly. Replace with natural – edible! – oils like coconut oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil, cacao butter etc.
Perfumes: most are made of toxic chemicals that your liver has to process: you inhale them and they enter your bloodstream via your lungs! Perfumes aren’t labeled or regulated beyond the required “parfum”, “fragrance” or “perfume”.
Pthalates: hormone-disrupting chemicals commonly found in cosmetics, lotions, etc.
Parabens: another type of hormone disrupting chemical, there are even toxic parabens in the leading personal lubricant recommended for fertility. Avoid!
Tip: the only paraben- and pthalate-free *i.e. hormonally safe* personal lubricant with evidence for fertility is called “YES!” (no affiliation…if you try it please let me know what you think!)
Plastics: this one’s the hardest because plastics are ev-er-y-where! Get a jump start in the kitchen: replace plastic food storage with glass or stainless steel, and never microwave in plastic or Styrofoam. Only purchase oils and oily foods that come in glass bottles – i.e. flax seed oil, cooking oils, coconut oil, nut butters. Oils pick up more of the toxic chemicals from plastics so it’s extra important that they be stored in glass.
5. Rock Your Detox
Naturopathic medicine is equipped to help you both assess and treat environmental toxicity, including the toxins that can interfere with your fertility and that can have adverse effects on your future child’s health. Once you’ve removed exposure, we can dive into detoxification starting with giving some Love to Your Liver.
I’ll be reviewing more on the “how” of detoxification in a future post!
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I’ve been pleased to welcome many new patients into my office in downtown Guelph lately who’ve been asking the same question in one way or another: “How do I know if natural fertility treatment is right for me?”
“Should we try natural fertility treatment?”
Whether you’ve been struggling with infertility for years, or you’ve just started trying to conceive, there’s a broad range of natural treatment choices to help you improve your chances of having a healthy baby. If you’re ready to start a family and have wondered how, when or whether to integrate natural medicine into your plan, here are some signs you may be ready to jump in.
1. “My fertility specialist referred me.” We’ve been receiving more referrals from fertility clinics. I think more fertility specialists are sending their patients our way because they’ve read the research studies showing the clinical benefits, and they’ve seen the positive results in their own patients who have used naturopathic support or acupuncture and had more relaxed and more successful IVF or IUI cycles. Some fertility clinics are going the extra mile and having naturopathic doctors or acupuncturists on-site to perform acupuncture treatments immediately before and after IVF transfer.
2. “I need a break from the medical stuff.” As much as fertility clinics can be necessary and helpful for many couples, even one round of infertility treatment can take a lot out of you. It’s OK to rest your body, mind and pocketbook if and when you need to, and re-balance your health with some safe, gentle, non-invasive – and even relaxing – natural fertility care while you decide on your next course of action. While on “breaks” from conventional treatment cycles, we’ve helped couples conceive naturally even after several failed IUI and IVF attempts.
3. “We want to try naturally first.” The vast majority of pregnancies are achieved spontaneously without medical intervention, so why not invest a couple of months in self-care, good nutrition, your relationship and your emotional well-being, even as you try to conceive? Become as healthy as you can be, and often, fertility will follow.
4. “I’m thinking about the next generation.” As a Naturopathic Doctor with a pre-medical degree in Toxicology, I hear you when you share that you’re concerned about the impact that environmental toxins, second-hand smoke or the birth control pills your doctor once recommended to regulate your period may have on your ability to conceive as well as your future baby’s health. I’ve designed our natural fertility clinic program around building up your health and removing obstacles to your fertility, your future pregnancy and your baby’s future health. These obstacles include toxins that can be assessed and removed from the body safely and naturally before you conceive.
5. “The price is right.” With each round of IVF costing about $5000-8000, plus up to $7,000 for medications, some couples consider the addition of natural fertility clinic services as a strategy to improve the return on their investment by improving their chances of conceiving sooner, preventing miscarriage, and investing in the health of their future child – all while feeling less stressed, more supported and less affected by medication side effects. Typical consultation and treatment packages start at $750-1500 for visits, fees which are often reimbursable by employee health insurance. You may also need to set aside an additional $50-$200 per month for recommended natural medicines such as herbs, teas or supplements.
As with the overarching philosophy of naturopathic medicine, when working with your Naturopathic Doctor or Registered Acupuncturist, natural fertility care is unlikely to be harmful, and may offer you significant physical, mental and emotional benefits that enhance your chances of conceiving the healthy baby of your dreams.
Ready to learn more? Get in touch with us and find out if we’re a good fit for your fertility goals.
Reference: The cost of infertility. Financial Post 2013