Are chemicals and pollutants impacting your fertility?

Once again, hormone disrupting chemicals are in the news[G1] ; but this time it is for their confirmed link to infertility. Studies have now shown that pollutants [G2] can impact the outcome of IVF cycles and that contaminants [G3] in plastics can impact sperm quality. I’ve been trying to alert my patients to these possibilities for years. Consider the following excerpt from my book PERFECT HORMONE BALANCE FOR FERTILITY (p. 29):

We are exposed to BioMutagens on a basis through our food, water, air and household and gardening products. Currently, there are 80,000 chemicals used commerciallyin the United States and about 1,000 new ones added each year. Many of these chemicals wind up in the environment or in the products that we use despite the fact that only 5 percent have ever been tested for their impact upon reproductive function. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledges that at least 50 of the commonly used chemicals they’ve tested affect reproduction in animals, but only 4 of them—lead, radiation, ethylene oxide and dibromochloropropane—are regulated to monitor their safety and appropriate disposal. Many of these potentially hazardous chemicals are classified as endocrine or hormone disruptors. They can increase the rate of egg loss and reduce the ability of embryos to implant and develop. The list also includes weed killers, solvents, pesticides and exhaust fumes.

Most importantly, there are relatively simple steps that you can take to minimize your exposure. In fact, another study demonstrated the importance of packaging and method of food preparation[G4]  can worsen your body burden. For practical guidelines on how to improve your fertility status and potentially reduce your risk of cancer as well, check out PERFECT HORMONE BALANCE FOR FERTILITY [G5] or PERFECT HORMONE BALANCE FOR PREGNANCY[G6] .



Among the biggest sources of BioMutagens (hormone disrupting chemicals) are cosmetics and personal care products. There are an estimated 5,000 chemical ingredients used in cosmetics alone, and some of these are known carcinogens or hormone disrupters. The most serious offenders are mercury, thimerosal, lead, formaldehyde, phthalates and parabens. One of the problems facing consumers, even the most environmentally aware, is that many of these BioMutagens are not listed on the labels. In 2005, California passed the Safe Cosmetics Act[G1] , providing the first regulation of cosmetics in the United States. The California Department of Health Services now monitors the ingredients of that have been shown to contribute to birth defects or cancer risks. There’s really no excuse to have these potentially toxic ingredients in beauty products, as these chemicals can easily be replaced by nontoxic alternatives.

Since most women don’t want to become an expert on all the potential ingredients, here are a few guidelines to help you choose products more carefully.

  • Choose organic products. They are generally safer and contain fewer BioMutagens, but still read the label for inconsistencies.
  • Keep it simple. Reduce the number of products you use to reduce your chance of being exposed to BioMutagens.
  • Go fragrance free. Many of the fragrances contain volatile chemicals that are more easily able to enter into your bloodstream.
  • Minimize use of nail polishes.  These are the most consistently linked to birth defects. If you apply color to your nails, do so in a well ventilated area or seek out one of the new nontoxic brands.
  • Create a custom shopping list. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group has a very helpful database. This will allow you to check your products as well as seek out safer alternatives (see link on blog).