Most of us know that the word “toxin” refers to unhealthy substances. Things like insecticides and gas fumes come to mind. Unfortunately, many toxins are not so easily detectable – but all toxins can have an impact on a person’s fertility.
While more research has been done on the effects of toxins on sperm, the same or similar effects can often be assumed in the female gamete cells (eggs). In general, it is wise to remember that sperm and eggs are cells, and like all cells, they are subject to “wear and tear” from a number of factors which may render them either dysfunctional or completely non-functioning.
Exposure to common dioxins such as cigarette smoke, lead and mercury and some agricultural pesticides are known to be direct threats to a couple’s ability to conceive or a healthy pregnancy. Troubling new research suggests that a broader range of chemicals – including many associated with everyday products such as household cleansers, personal care and beauty aids, and even plastic water bottles – could have a much more complex and far-reaching impact on men’s and women’s fertility.
Where do toxins come from?
Every hour we encounter a host of toxins. Some of these are easily handled by our bodies and we have developed an elaborate detoxification system to deal with toxins. However, our toxin exposure over the past fifty years has increased dramatically. Smoking, urban pollutants, food processing, pesticides, herbicides, additives, medicines, plastics, beauty products and low dose radiation all increase what we call our toxin load.
How do we get rid of them?
Imagine your detoxification system as a large wheelie bin. This bin can hold and tolerate a certain amount of rubbish/toxins. Then this wheelie bin is sorted out into various categories. It is like plastics with plastics and glass with glass. A problem occurs when the bin begins to overflow. This overflow starts to spill out into your yard/your body. If this overspill begins to happen, the body takes it upon itself to store toxins out of harm’s way for later detoxification. This is where the problems begin to mount. Toxins can be stored in the brain, kidneys and in the womb, ovaries and testes.
Toxin overload has been highlighted as a possible cause for cancer, Alzhemeirs, Parkinson’s, autoimmune disorders, sperm quality, motility and quantity and has also been linked to PCOS, endometriosis, PMS, and many more.
Pollution refers to the toxic gases and chemicals, such as methane and carbon monoxide, that are released into the atmosphere only to be mixed into the air that we breath-in and exhale out. Pollution toxins can come from vehicle and factory emissions as well as other sources. A notable air pollutant is also cigarettes. Try avoiding these where possible, and why not look to the countryside as an escape, if you are in an urban area.
A number of toxins have been discovered in water. Everything from chlorine, bleach, ammonia and even OTC and prescription medications including HRT and contraceptive medication have been reported to be found in excess in drinking water. Spring water is probably the best choice but it can be expensive. There are some excellent water filtration units out there, whether they are installed to your sinks or as separate filtration units.
These can refer to food additives, highly processed or genetically modified foods and even chemical ingredients in food recipes such as food dyes (RED 40) and chemical flavourings (MSG and aspartame).
Some doctors believe that modern diets can actually be considered ‘toxic’ because of the high intake of processed, dead ’empty-calorie’ food items like white flour and sugar. We are big advocates of organic foods, not for their nutritional intake but for their purity and being an uncontaminated source of nutrients. We appreciate however that organic food, especially meat, is expensive. If it puts too much of a toll on your budget try source natural foods from local suppliers or Farmers Markets, and try eating food in its natural state (food not in packets).
Chemicals that are toxic may include small amounts of very toxic things, such as pesticide residue dusted onto our freshly-picked, non-washed, non-organic produce. (Always choose organic produce when possible.) High pesticide produce items include non-organic foods. We also regard ‘drugs’ as chemicals. Whether they are over the counter, prescription or recreational drugs, they can have a negative impact on fertility, for either partner. Some medicines are essential and we respect and understand this. If they are not essential medicines, like over the counter painkillers, try natural non-toxic alternatives like Devil’s Claw, Bromelain, Cherry Juice or talk to your healthcare provider for the alternative that will suit you.
The American Fertility Association (AFA) has joined the ranks of numerous organisations that are attributing infertility to environmental toxins in some cases.
The AFA publicly announced its commitment to creating a greener world for conception with the release of two publications on the matter. As evidence continues to grow supporting various environmental factors’ impact on fertility, more organisations are joining the cause to reduce and eliminate toxins that are known to be harmful to humans. The United Nation estimates that 1.3 million individuals die every year from preventable environmental and occupational causes of cancer, a number the AFA is dedicated to reducing.
While studies conducted in the 1990s suggested that many cases were unrelated, new data and more sophisticated tests have determined cause and effect patterns. Studies analysing male infertility point to three main hazards: physical exposure, chemical exposure, and psychological exposure to environmental and negative health triggers that result in infertility. Epidemiological studies strongly support ethylene dibromide, glycol ethers, and a host of other chemicals as contributing to infertility among men.
Endocrine disruptors, which disrupt the development of gender specific organs, have been long documented as sources of unhealthy foetuses. Mostly found in household and beauty products, studies are typically conducted on women.
We realise that some of these items are unavoidable and some may be considered essential in our modern lifestyles. When we look at this toxin load and fertility, we believe that there is a possible link to ‘unexplained fertility’. There have been several clinical studies on how toxins affect sperm and egg quality.
Pillar Healthcare suggests that your daily routine should be examined. If you or your partner is exposing yourself to unnecessary toxins, try come up with a solution to change this exposure. We think that the analogy of the wheelie bin should be kept in mind. We have kept this in mind when creating our formula and have added detoxification aids. These include NAC, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Magnesium, B vitamins and a host of others.
Also, please note that detoxification is not a process that can be complete over a short period of time. It cannot be rushed and your liver and your body will not thank you for ‘flushing’ the body. It is our approach that reducing your toxic load slowly and surely will provide optimal benefit with minimal harm. Most nutritional therapists can advise you further on this matter.