Family

Environmental Factors May Have a Bigger Impact on Fertility than You Think

Breaking Down the Science and Ways to Limit Harmful Exposures

Trying to get pregnant should be an exciting time of planning for the next stage of your life, not one full of doctors visits, constant testing, and worrying about body temperatures. But, if you and your partner are struggling with infertility, you are not alone. According to the CDC about 12% of women have impaired fecundity, which is another way of saying that they are having difficulty getting or staying pregnant (1) [there are no statistics on infertility in men, but there is science showing that overall sperm count is decreasing(14)]. And, the science is clear, environmental factors definitely impact reproductive health - for both men and women. Some of the biggest impacts come from air pollution, pesticides, and endocrine disrupting chemicals (2), which are in all sorts of products and affect the way hormones interact with your body.


Pollution

Pollution has been linked to a couple of different reasons that couples might experience infertility (3). One of the big ones is that men who are exposed to high levels of air pollution have decreased sperm motility two to three months later (4). That means if there is poor air quality now, for the next two to three months, men's sperm could have a tough time moving around, meaning it is less likely to find the egg, and the couple is less likely to get pregnant. Additionally, for women who are exposed to air pollution, there is evidence that they have lower rates of fertility and higher rates of miscarriage (5). The same is true for both women who are able to get pregnant conventionally and those using IVF to get pregnant.

Exposure to pollution is hard to control, but there are a couple of ways you can try to limit your exposure besides voting for and supporting regulations that control air pollution. One way is to purchase an air purifier that targets indoor air pollution. Another is to watch air quality alerts (you can do that right in your standard weather app) and stay inside on particularly bad days.

Pesticides

This is another one that affects both men and women. Many studies have looked at people who regularly come into contact with pesticides because they are applying them, most often for their jobs. These studies have found that pesticides change hormone levels causing lower sperm rates and lessened sperm quality in men (6) and adding oxidative stress for women. This could mean they experience implantation difficulties and spontaneous abortions to name a just a few issues (7). But this doesn't mean that those who don't work with pesticides are completely in the clear. Research has also found that for women who are undergoing IVF, eating fruits and veggies that are known to have high levels of pesticides can reduce their chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby (8).

We have some tips to help you prioritize which produce to buy organic, which can help you avoid high levels of pesticides on the food you eat. There are even organic wine and cereal options for those nights when you're too tired to throw together a meal.

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Now, this is kind of a catch-all category. It includes any substances that impact the way your endocrine system works. This typically means that the substances impact the levels of different hormones because these chemicals interfere with how your cells normally deal with hormones (9). For example, some chemicals like BPA and phthalates are known to mimic estrogen and can screw up your natural estrogen levels. If you are trying to get pregnant, and have low levels of (naturally occurring) estrogen but high levels of imitation estrogen (like BPA and phthalates), then your body won't have the true estrogen it needs to support processes like ovulation or the thickening of the lining of the uterus for implantation (10).

There are many other hormones beside estrogen associated with your endocrine system that can be affected by these substances. This means that both men and women are likely to have altered hormone levels that can affect fertility because of EDCs. While BPA and phthalates (both found in plastics) are endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) (11), pesticides and pollution are also considered EDCs. Perfluorinated chemicals, also referred to as PFAS chemicals, also act as EDCs and can impact fertility (12, 13). One other compound to consider is flame retardants. They are added to many everyday items like couches, carpet pads, and electronics, but because of how they are added they easily escape into household dust and into our bodies, where they can cause low rates of fertilization, implantation, and interfere with a successful pregnancy (15).

A couple of easy ways to limit the amount of EDCs you come into contact with every day are to invest in glass or stainless steel food storage containers and water bottles, look for personal care products that are "fragrance-free," ditch the non-stick cookware, and take your shoes off at the door.

While it may feel like these things are everywhere, small changes to your daily routine can make a big difference. Even if you just try to make one change, it could affect your fertility and the health of your future child.


References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/infertility.htm
  2. https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(18)30440-0/fulltext#sec6.3 Environment and Infertility: Its Role in Assisted Reproductive Technologies, Linda C. Giudice, M.D., Ph.D.
  3. https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12940-017-0291-8#Sec5
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0015028208047729
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0015028216625487
  6. http://www.ijrcog.org/index.php/ijrcog/article/view/2490/2633
  7. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15569543.2018.1474926?scroll=top&needAccess;=true
  8. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2659557
  9. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm
  10. http://www.clearblue.com/menstrual-cycles-and-ovulation
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21155623
  12. https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/30/3/701/661287
  13. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10815-011-9548-2
  14. https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article-abstract/23/6/646/4035689?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  15. https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/ehp1021

Tired of changing and throwing away tampons or pads every month? Want a zero-waste alternative for your period? Heard of menstrual cups and period underwear, but not sure which one to pick? Well, look no further! We rounded up the 10 best-reviewed non-toxic menstrual cups and organic period underwear options for you to try out. All of the menstrual cups are made of a flexible medical-grade silicone that collect fluid instead of absorbing it. The period underwear options we found are made with organic cotton, and can be washed.

Keep Reading Show Less
Want more news like this?
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL
Roundups

9 Stainless Steel & Glass Tumblers

For iced coffee, iced tea, and smoothies on the go

Getting iced coffee in a plastic cup with a plastic straw is a lot harder to do after watching that video of a plastic straw being removed from a turtle's nose. Plus there is also that pesky condensation that creates a pool of water at the bottle of your cupholder or on your desk. So we found the 9 best reviewed stainless steel and glass tumblers, so that you can have your iced beverages in style this summer. Many of the brands have different sizes ranging from 20oz to 30oz and variety of colors. We prefer stainless steel or glass because many of the acrylic or plastic tumblers may have chemicals similar to BPA. We also link to some stainless steel straws because not all of these tumblers come with straws. And if you're like us, drinking iced coffee through a straw is just synonymous with summer.

Keep Reading Show Less
Life

Easy Ways To Keep Your Car Smelling Fresh Without the Synthetic Scents

Cause Traditional Car Air Fresheners Are No Good For Your Health

Those little tree-shaped air fresheners dangling from a rear-view mirror or air vent clip-ons may feel festive, but most car air fresheners can be bad for your health. They seem so innocent, so how is that possible you might ask?

One of the biggest issues with these products is the mystery behind what goes into them. Believe it or not, It's actually hard to be 100% certain about what chemicals are in air fresheners. There's a ton of secrecy into what actually goes into a fragrance product because companies can claim their ingredients are trade secrets. We definitely can't say a product is safe if we don't even know what is used to make it.

However, we do know that most air fresheners are made up of a ton of synthetic fragrances. There are literally thousands of chemicals manufacturers can choose from when making a product with synthetic fragrance. And a lot of these chemicals are known to have negative impacts on our health. (1)

On top of that, fragrance in air fresheners usually contain both phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (2). Although these chemicals can make scents powerful, they can also be allergens that cause coughing, headaches, and runny noses (2). Phthalates are also hormone disruptors and VOCs can be carcinogens. We definitely don't want to be constantly breathing in those chemicals, no matter how good they might smell!

The amount of space inside your car is also a reason we don't like traditional car air fresheners. A smaller space = more concentrated exposure, and since you probably have your windows closed 90% of the time, a car is one of the worst places to keep a strongly-scented product.

Luckily, there are easy, nontoxic ways to make your car smell fresh! You can keep a container filled with baking soda or a baking soda freezer pack hidden somewhere. Baking soda is a completely natural way to eliminate odors and a box is only a couple of dollars! Using scents from natural sources are also a great way to add a little freshness to your car. You can put a few drops of an essential oil onto a clothespin or another wooden item and leave it somewhere in your car (3). When the smell goes away, just replenish with a few more drops of oil! If you prefer something a little more contained, we also love putting satchels of lavender or rose petals around our car.

But perhaps the easiest way to get rid of a bad smell is to simply roll your windows down! Maybe rolling down the windows will help make your commute a little more relaxing too.

References:

  1. https://www.nrdc.org/media/2007/070919
  2. https://kellybroganmd.com/is-your-uber-air-freshener-making-you-sick/
  3. https://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/how-to-make-3-naturally-scented-air-fresheners-for-cars/
Roundups

12 Best Non-Toxic Diaper Creams

Our top recommendations for your baby's bottom that parents love

Updated for 2019!

We get it- you're busy but you also want the best for your baby. But who has the time to sit down and do hours of research on the best diaper creams for your baby's bottom? That's why we're here! We have nothing butt (get it?) amazing products for our non-toxic diaper cream roundup. These 12 products are free from irritants like fragrances and use soothing ingredients to keep diaper rash at bay. Some options have non-nano zinc oxide to protect the skin, and some work more as an ointment to prevent redness. Looking for an organic diaper balm? We've got those too. As always, we thoroughly researched consumer reviews to ensure you're getting a stellar product that actually works and that parents love.

Keep Reading Show Less
Home

10 Places to Buy PVC-free Wall Decals

Why it's worth considering before your next redecorating project

Wall decals are the perfect decorating solution for nurseries, kids rooms, renters, dorm dwellers, or basically anyone who is a commitment-phobe. There are endless designs that can add just the pop you need, and they are easy to remove for when you want to change it up. But most wall decals are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), otherwise known as vinyl. These vinyl stickers have added phthalates which make the plastic stickers super thin and flexible, yet durable enough so they don't rip easily. Phthalates have endocrine disrupting properties that can wreak havoc on your hormones and have been linked to a variety of health issues like cancers, infertility, preterm birth, impaired brain development, and asthma and allergies. Basically, not good stuff. Plus, the manufacturing process of PVC is really bad for the environment and communities where it's manufactured (1) and there's no way to recycle it. Eek. Not good all around.

So next time you're shopping for a wall decal, check the 'details' section on the product page. A decal that says vinyl or doesn't specify anything is probably one you want to avoid. Thankfully, there are plenty of sites that make PVC-free options that still get high marks from designers. We pulled together our top 10 favorites sites down below.

  1. Chocovenyl
  2. Eco Wall Decals
  3. Koko Kids
  4. Love Mae
  5. Oopsy Daisy
  6. Petit Collage
  7. Pop and Lolli
  8. Sunny Decals
  9. Tiny Me
  10. Wall Dressed Up


References:

  1. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/vinyl-chloride.pdf
Family

5 Tips for Healthy Kid-Friendly Meals (cause the struggle is real!)

Dreading dinner time every night? We're here to help.

Let's face it, getting a child to eat, no less a picky eater, might actually be the most daunting task in the world. Whether you've been on the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches only train for the past week or past month and just want your child to add something green or leafy to their palate, we've got you covered. We've put together some overall suggestions to incorporate into meal-prep that are not only more kid-friendly, but will also help you avoid processed foods that might be less healthy or have added toxic chemicals.

Keep Reading Show Less
Family

What to Know Before Heading to the Playground With Your Kids

Hand washing and removing shoes at home protects you from more than just germs

As soon as spring hits, we find any excuse to go outside and spend time in the sun. If you have kids, outdoor time is often synonymous with heading to the playground. We LOVE the playground and always encourage kids to get outside and play! Washing hands and taking shoes off is a must after the park- so many germs! These habits could also help prevent exposure to two questionable materials that may be a part of your playground.

The first is wood pressure-treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA). This insecticide was sprayed on wood play structures because it made the wood resistant to degradation and insects. However, 22% of CCA is pure arsenic (1). Arsenic is a super nasty chemical that is classified as a known carcinogen by the World Health Organization. It can also cause "immune system suppression, increased risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, endocrine disruption and diabetes" (2). This chemical is not to be messed with!

Over time, the CCA can be released from the treated wood and can end up on the hands and clothes of your little one. It can also end up in the soil around the playground, so your child may still be exposed even if they don't play on the wooden structure (3).

The good news is that CCA treated wood was banned from residential construction in 2003. So if your neighborhood park has been recently built or renovated, chances are you don't have to worry about this. You can always check with your city or neighborhood association to see if CCA wood is in your local park. It also wouldn't hurt to double check with your kid's school to see what their playground was built with. Usually, CCA treated wood has a green tint, which can make it easy to spot.

Even if your playground does have CCA, tt's pretty easy to limit exposure. If you're planning to have a picnic or snack at the park, make sure to use hand wipes or wash hands (if a bathroom is nearby) before eating. After returning home, thoroughly wash your and your child's hands. It also doesn't hurt to wipe everyone down with a wet wipe too! This will help get rid of any chemicals and other undesirables like pollen as well. Leaving shoes at the door can stop CCA-contaminated soil from tracking all over your house.

Crumb rubber is another questionable material that could be found in your playground. Crumb rubber are those small black particles you find in artificial turf that seem to always end up stuck in your shoe/sock/bag/shirt/life/etc. It's actually made from old, used tires that have been chopped up into really tiny pieces. While this may seem like a good idea from a recycling standpoint, it's not great for health. Tire rubber contain a ton of bad chemicals like PAHs, phthalates, phenols and benzothiazoles (4), and the tires are not treated before they end up as crumb rubber. These chemicals are linked to serious health issues like endocrine disruption. The crumbs are so small that they have a habit of getting in your clothes and hair, accidentally getting eaten by curious babies, or sticking to your skin. Crumb rubber can also give off more chemicals as they're heated up in the hot sun. There's even speculation that crumb rubber might have played a role in the cancer of adolescent soccer players (5).

When returning from the playground, you can leave shoes outside so soil and rubber doesn't get tracked around the house. Also make sure to wash your hands or shower! Avoiding play time when it's really hot outside can also limit the amount of exposure. If you've been around crumb rubber, make sure to dust yourself and your play equipment off before you leave the playground to get rid of any hitchhiking rubber pieces. Changing your clothes after returning doesn't hurt either!




References:

  1. https://www.ewg.org/research/poisoned-playgrounds

2. https://www.ceh.org/campaigns/legal-action/previous-work/childrens-products/arsenic-in-play-structures

3. https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/science-public/toxic-playgrounds

4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0045653512009848

5. https://www.cnn.com/2017/01/27/health/artificial-turf-cancer-study-profile/index.html

Want more news like this?
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL