Toxic substances are found in all sorts of everyday objects, and they can find their way into our bodies in unexpected ways.  In very small doses they are not harmful but exposure can build up over time and can be particularly detrimental to those trying to conceive because of their effect on hormones, egg quality and sperm.  I’m going to talk about two types of toxins – BPA’s and Phalates and briefly explain how and why you should  avoid them.

BPA’s – Bisphenol

Why are they bad?

Also known as ‘endocrine disrupters’, BPA’s interrupt the regulating function of hormones which carefully co-ordinate biological functions.  Studies show that BPA’s mimic oestrogen making them harmful to the development of good quality eggs, and especially troublesome for women with oestrogen dominant conditions such as PCOS.

There is also evidence (although limited) that they may have a role in increasing miscarriage rates.

Where are they found?

  • Plastic food storage boxes
  • Water bottles
  • Canned food (found in the inside lining)
  • Coffee machines – including plastic pods
  • Paper till receipts

 What’s the alternative?

  • Look for storage boxes that are BPA free – Sistema claim to be and they have an all-round sustainable focus in their production and transport.
  • BPA’s are particularly leached out with heat – so don’t put hot food in plastic, microwave, dishwashing etc. consider washing by hand, and in cool water.
  • Choose metal water bottles (lighter and less breakable then glass) I like S’well – lots of different sizes and formats to choose from.
  • Canned goods – companies who have done the hard work to avoid BPA’s will display this on the can – if a can doesn’t stipulate this I think it’s fair to assume there are BPA’s present.
  • Coffee machines – well if you are TTC you know my thoughts on coffee – so another reason not to drink too much!  But you could try using a French press cafetiere (made from glass and metal) or an Italian Express maker which sits on the stove.  For decaf of course!
  • Till receipts – thankfully now at the self-service tills you often get a choice of whether you want to take your receipt or not.

Phalates

Why are they bad?

Phalates are known to impair fertility in men and women.  Certainly men’s role in TTC is being more talked about in recent months as the average quality of sperm across the population continues to decrease.  It seems that phalates cause an increase in oxidate stress which means that the body produces more oxygen molecules (otherwise known as free radicals) than it can handle.  Antioxidants in the body counteract this, but if they can’t keep up this causes cell damage.  Think poor quality sperm and eggs.  In men, a normal sperm analysis will not pick up this sort of cellular damage but a sperm DNA fragmentation test (not often a first line of testing) will often reveal cellular trouble.

Where are they found?

In the bathroom primarily!  Phalates can be absorbed through the skin and are found in almost everything that is fragranced

  • Cosmetics
  • Nail polish
  • Shampoo
  • Body lotions
  • Hairspray
  • Air fresheners
  • Food packaging
  • Laundry detergents and fabric softeners
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Soft plastic – PVC/vinyl

What’s the alternative?

  • Content Beauty is great for all things make up
  • Face skin care – Tropics have lovely products and sensuous serums
  • For body lotions and oils – Weleda
  • Food wrapping and packaging – beeswax coverings or cloth covers. Mesh bags in the fridge instead of plastic
  • For cleaning and laundry products = Method, Ecover and Dr Bonner
  • Organic bamboo yoga mats – these are not cheap and are investment pieces at around £90-100 – there are many brands available