4 Easy Endocrine Disruptor Detox Tips to Boost Your Odds of Getting Pregnant

Especially when trying for a baby, we know it can feel impossible (and stressful!) to avoid all the chemicals we encounter every day. Here are 4 easy things you can do today.

endocrine disruptor tips for fertility

Increasing infertility ratesdiagnoses such as PCOS and endometriosisdeclining sperm parameters, and even global changes in the average penis size have a common link: our heightened exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). 

These tiny chemicals in our air, water, food, and personal care products have a big effect on our reproductive hormone production — and consequently affect our chances of getting pregnant at home or via fertility treatments like IVF.

While EDCs impact all of us, research shows people with hormone conditions like endometriosis or PCOS may be particularly sensitive to the hormone disruption caused by EDCs.

Especially when trying for a baby, we know it can feel impossible (and stressful!) to avoid all the chemicals we encounter every day. The good news: they’ve reviewed 100,000 clinical studies on fertility and when it comes to chemicals in your daily life, you have more control than you might think

Rather than stress about every little possible EDC you might encounter, their advice is to focus instead on your biggest sources of your personal, repeat exposure. Everyone’s biggest EDC exposure points are different, and we can help you identify yours. 

But here are 4 common ones that you can tackle today to keep your hormones happy and healthy.

1. Swap Plastic Cutting Boards for Wooden Ones

You likely use your cutting board most days. But imagine this: when you cut food on these plastic boards, a tiny chemical called BPA is released and mixed into your food. BPA is what makes plastic cutting boards hard, lightweight, and shatterproof. 

But we also know it acts as an endocrine disruptor. From many studies, we know that BPA exposure can impact the egg maturation process. Scientists have also found that higher levels of BPA in the body are associated with a smaller number of oocytes retrieved and lower peak estrogen levels during IVF, as well as a higher rate of implantation failure

BPA doesn’t just impact female hormones and fertility, it impacts sperm health too! In fact, greater exposure to BPA is associated with declined sperm concentration, motility, and morphology, as well as increased sperm DNA damage.

By swapping out your plastic cutting board, you’re cutting out a major daily exposure source.

2. Skip the Non-Stick (or Teflon Pans) — Choose Ceramic or PFAS-free Instead

Most nonstick cookware contain a “forever chemical” called PFAS. PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are what makes things like mascara water-proof and fast food wrappers grease-resistant. It’s also what makes most everyday pots and pans “non-stick.”

The challenge with chemicals like PFAS is that they have very long half-lives (nearly a decade… hence the nickname, “forever chemical”).  But don’t worry — the evidence still shows that making changes to reduce your exposure now still can have an impact on your endocrine health. 

Here is why you want to avoid items with these forever chemicals: when it comes to egg health, increased exposure to PFAS is associated with lower ovarian reserve and reduction in the likelihood of pregnancy and giving birth to a baby.

In fact, one consequential 2023 study from the Mt. Sinai’s research team showed high exposure to PFAS may result in reduced fertility in women by as much as 40% (!) — which sparked a question about whether “forever chemicals” like PFAS might be behind “unexplained infertility.”

Unfortunately, PFAS also seems to be toxic to sperm: studies have shown that high concentration of these forever chemicals is associated with fewer “normal” sperm and may even “contribute to the otherwise unexplained low semen quality often seen in young men.”

Like with BPA, the best thing to do is focus on your biggest exposure points, and everyday items like your cookware is a great place to start. So, confirm your nonstick cookware is PFAS free (and is not Teflon). Think: pots, pans, and baking sheets. 

3. Choose Fragrance-Free Laundry Products

Opt for fragrance-free cleaning products to cut down on exposure to phthalates, a notable Endocrine-Disrupting Chemical (EDC) linked to fertility concerns. Steer clear of products that vaguely list "fragrance" or "parfum" without detailing ingredients, since these terms are one way that companies can hide their use of chemicals like phthalates.

Why? “Parfum” and “fragrance” are umbrella terms that companies can use to protect fragrance recipes as "trade secrets," potentially encompassing not just one or two, but hundreds of synthetic chemicals. An Environmental Working Group (EWG) study found that 72% of products featuring "fragrance" contained phthalates, recognized endocrine disruptors.

So why focus on laundry detergent? When using heavily scented detergents, clothing turns into a substantial daily source of exposure to phthalates and other EDCs. Swap out strongly scented laundry detergents with fragrance-free options (here is a list of safer choices if you need help!).

PS. When it comes to the laundry room, we also recommend ditching the dryer sheets and fabric softeners for wool dryer balls (or skip this step all together!). Dryer sheets are commonly used in laundry to reduce static cling, soften clothes, and add a pleasant fragrance. But they typically contain a variety of chemicals, such as fragrance compounds and fabric softeners. In other words, they’re likely another large exposure source to endocrine disruptors.

4. Swap Your Personal Care Empties for Better Alternatives

Of the 82,000 ingredients used in cosmetic products, 14,000 have been identified as industrial chemicals that can cause cancer and disrupt hormones, affecting your reproductive system.

The best advice we can give is to reduce your product count as much as possible. Whether your makeup, skincare, or shower routine, consider sticking to a handful of your favorite products.

Since there is no legal concept of “clean beauty”, simply relying on a product's claim of being "clean" is not enough. How can you be sure it's actually cleaner?

These great resources have established testing methods and are a good shortcut for getting into “clean” products:

  • Hormone University certifies products as endocrine disruptor-free through the Seal of Approval. This certification is a unique verification of its kind by focusing specifically on endocrine disruptor chemicals (EDCs) – invisible threats impacting our hormones.

  • The EWG evaluates products based on their health, contamination, ecotoxicity, and transparency through ingredient disclosure and manufacturing practices.

  • Think Dirty ranks products based on their health impacts, evaluating ingredients for their carcinogenicity, developmental, and reproductive toxicity, allergenicity, and immunotoxicity.

  • Yuka ranks ingredients based on their potential adverse health impact, considering endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCS), carcinogens, allergens, and irritants.

Need More Help Figuring Out How to Balance Hormones While TTC?

We get it — this can all seem like a lot and it’s not realistic to throw out all your products or stress about every exposure. If you need help figuring out a data-driven approach for where to focus while planning to conceive, we're here to help.

We'll guide your prioritization of the endocrine disruptors and other toxins to avoid and also elevate the diet, supplementation, exercise, and well-being strategies most likely to work for you based on the latest evidence. 

While our exposure to all these hormone-impacting chemicals may seem daunting and beyond our control, making these small detox steps can make a difference in your hormone health. You got this!

A variation of this article was originally published here.

Image 1Image 1

Ready To Take Your Fertility Health Into Your Own Hands?