Family

5 Easy Changes to Protect Your Sperm from Harmful Chemicals

Keep your swimmers safe with these science-based tips

Hey, guys, yeah all you sperm producing humans out there. Hate to break it to you, but when it comes to different chemicals in our world, your little swimmers might not be as safe as you think. While it's true that you continually are creating new sperm, if you are exposed to some of these nasty things on a regular basis, chances are high that they are affecting both the quality and quantity of your sperm. Even if you aren't planning to have a kid right now, these things could make it harder for you to conceive a kid in the future and research has linked sperm health to overall health. But, hang tight. We have some super simple suggestions for ways to change up your routine that can protect your sperm for years to come.


1) Go Organic

In general, choosing organic when you can is smart because pesticides are pretty bad. But, there is a bunch of research showing that pesticides are especially harsh to sperm (1). Various types of pesticides can decrease both sperm quality and quantity. So, yeah, organic kinda matters and your sperm aren't safe from the pesticides (2). Because we get that going organic for everything is probably not feasible, some other easy ways to avoid pesticides are to take your shoes off at the door so you aren't bringing them into your house on your shoes, and to prioritize organic for fruits and veggies without thick skins or peels that you remove.

2) Clean Your House

Okay, this is just good for you in general. But, when it comes to your sperm, they are pretty sensitive. Not just to things like temperature, but also to various chemicals and metals that end up in the dust that just happens all over your house (and everyone else's too - it's not just you). Things like lead and flame retardants are really good at sticking to dust particles and hanging out around your house (4). That dust can be on everything from your couch to your laptop to your coffee table, basically anything. And, when you touch that dust then do something like, say, eat a snack, that dust can get into your body, which is how it harms your sperm. So, while it's not super fun, just clean your apartment. We suggest vacuuming and wiping down surfaces with a wet microfiber cloth at a minimum. But you know, if you are having people over, you might also want to pick up the dirty clothes and clean the bathroom.

3) Ditch plastic in your kitchen (wherever you can)

Two easy ways to lessen the amount of plastic in your life that will make a huge difference for sperm health are to find a new water bottle and get some glass food storage containers. These are items you probably use daily, so swapping them out can make a big difference. Ditching the plastic is because most plastic either contains BPA (or some other type of bisphenol chemical just like BPA) to make it hard and clear or phthalates to make it flexible. Both of these chemicals, which are added to all sorts of plastic-like things can mess with your hormones, and therefore your mess with the quality of your sperm (5, 7) . In some cases it changes the DNA in your sperm (6), in other cases it changes how many sperm you produce (5). So, if you want lots of happy sperm, it might be worth cutting plastic when you can.

4) Use Cold Water When You Cook (even if that just means making ramen)

No matter what cooking means for you, chances are something in your repertoire requires cooking food with boiling water. Right? We totally get that starting with hot water from the tap just makes sense and seems like it will speed up the time from ingredients to dinner, but you should really be using water from the cold tap whenever you cook (check out this article for tips to getting hot water just as fast without using the hot tap). Why? Because hot water makes it way easier for different chemicals and metals in the pipes to get into the water. Not having lead in your food, which for sure messes up your sperm (10, 11), is totally worth it.

5) Keep Your Phone in Your Back Pocket or Bag

Does keeping your phone in your pocket right next to your family jewels affect your sperm, you ask. Short answer, according to science, probably yeah (8, 9). Studies have found that the radiation from a phone can cause sperm to be less mobile and undergo changes to the DNA (8). So, we suggest keeping your phone in your bag when you can. If you aren't taking a backpack, it's better to keep it in your back pocket. And maybe don't sleep with it on the bed. Basically, the further away the better. That way the radiation your phone emits won't mess with your sperm's ability to swim.

While these tips are probably more important if you and your SO are thinking about or trying to get pregnant, they all help you live a healthier life in other ways, too. Many of these toxics, like lead, pesticides, and chemicals in plastics also affect your health in other ways like reducing your cognitive function, messing with hormone levels, causing cancer, and increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease, to name a few. So, yes, do these things if you want to have a kid, but also do them just because they will make your life a little healthier.


Resources:

(1) https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/joh/51/6/51_L9019/_article/-char/ja/

(2) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jat.1321

(3) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00128-008-9370-4

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2854757/

(5) https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(10)02587-2/abstract

(6) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0890623810002509

(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4123031/

(8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4074720/

(9) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412014001354

(10) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0890623803000364

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1637869/

Roundups

The 10 Best Healthier & Eco-Friendly Disposable Diapers

Our picks that is good for your baby and the planet

Cloth diapering just not for you? No judgement here! When it comes to disposable diapers, we know that all parents want the best for their baby, but are often overwhelmed by the choices and all the healthy and environmental claims that companies make. We evaluated 26 diapers that claim to be non-toxic, green, or natural. We looked at whether they were free of harmful and irritating ingredients and assessed truth of their eco-friendly claims. We then developed a score for each diaper and found 10 great options in every budget.

Keep Reading Show Less
Want an easy way to live healthier?
Sign up for our newsletter! Curated environmental health news delivered to your inbox every three weeks.
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL
Home

Wondering If You Should Jump On the Organic Cotton Train?

The surprising reasons why it might not be the best bang for your buck when it comes to buying organics

If you've made the move to try and purchase organic products for the betterment of your health and the environment, you've probably heard of a slew of things that you can purchase that are organic - kale, apples, cereal, even cotton. We recommend a simple way to prioritize your organic produce purchases, but how does cotton fit into this? Is it worth the extra dollars? Clothes, sheets, towels, baby blankets, and all the other things around the house that are made from cotton can add up quickly. You might be thinking about organic, but aren't so sure. Well, we've weighed the pros and cons for you below to make an informed decision.

Keep Reading Show Less
Family

A Truly Non-Toxic Finger Paint Made With Just 2 Ingredients- Yogurt and Food Coloring

Because "non-toxic" finger paint might not really be non-toxic

If you have a little artist who's still too young to know that paint isn't food, you might want to consider making your own safe and edible paint. It might not surprise you that paints and other art supplies labeled as "non-toxic" might not really be non-toxic. Unfortunately, there's no real guarantee what's in your paint because most ingredients in commercially available paints don't have to be disclosed.

However, scientists do know that pigments used in paints can contain toxic metals like cadmium, lead, and nickel. And preservatives need to be added to a lot of water-based paints so the product can sit on the shelf and not rot or mold before being used.

Keep Reading Show Less
Roundups

The 9 Best Non-Toxic Facial Sunscreens

Everyday coverage that protects against wrinkles and spots but won't clog pores

Our best beauty tip? Wear sunscreen on your face every single day, all year round! Basically all dermatologists agree that wearing sunscreen is important to protect your skin from sun damage and keeps wrinkles and spots at bay. But, we know that it's not easy to find the right facial sunscreen for your skin type. And of course it's even harder to find facial sunscreens without any chemical sunscreens. So we dug through all that is out there to find non-toxic facial sunscreens without harmful chemicals that are well-reviewed, easy to find, and are all SPF 30 or higher. All of these facial sunscreens are mineral sunscreens, so they're healthier for you and are reef safe too, if you happen to be by the ocean. Many of our options also come in tinted versions, so they provide light coverage as well. So what are you waiting for? Check out these non-toxic facial sunscreens and pick one up!

P.S. We also have a roundup of our favorite non-toxic all purpose and sport sunscreens, and non-toxic baby sunscreens!

Keep Reading Show Less
Warm weather screams beaches, smoothies and sunglasses, but there's always the dreaded secret armpit sniff to check for BO. Maybe your first inclination is to check out the drugstore for the deodorant that promises to keep you smelling fresh all day and into the night, but before you run, hear us out. Just like you probably have your favorite coffee or soap brand, you should be choosy about your deodorant too!
Keep Reading Show Less


No matter where you live, sustainability is becoming a hot topic. It might be a friendly reminder sign to bring your reusable bag to the grocery store, a city government conversation about not using straws, or it could run as deep as cities committing to be zero waste - some as early as next year. With all of this comes the question of what sort of products are best for the world? Is biodegradable really any different from compostable. Should I opt for compostable options over recyclable ones? Does reusing things help?

All of these are great questions! And the answer to all of them has an impact on our planet, and oftentimes our health, too.

So, first of all, what do all of these different terms that are being thrown around really mean? Let's start with the one we probably have all heard the most: recyclable.

Recyclable

Recycling is the process of taking a product and breaking it down to use it again, often as a raw material. We all know that we can recycle paper, plastic, and cans. In most places, recycling facilities can also deal with glass. All of this is great, but let's break down the concept a little bit more. Quick note, each city is slightly different and you should check exactly what can and can't be recycled in your neighborhood before you just assume you are good to go.

Tossing something you think or hope can be recycled into the recycling bin is often called wishful or aspirational recycling. While your heart is in the right place, doing this might actually be worse than just trashing something you aren't clear on. Why? Because that one iffy thing can actually be enough to compromise a full batch of recycling, which could mean everything ends up in the landfill instead of just the one questionable item. In those situations, the best option would be to confirm before you dispose of it. And, if your neighborhood doesn't recycle it, ask your city to start accepting those items. But, in the meantime, if you don't know, don't just hope it can be recycled.

Back to the topic at hand, what is actually recyclable? Most plastics that hold their shape can be recycled (like water bottles, food containers, bottles for household items, etc.). In some places, they have even started being able to accept items like plastic grocery bags, shrink wrap, and plastic wrap if it is packaged correctly. Other commonly accepted items for recycling include paper, cardboard, unbroken glass and metal (including tinfoil if it's clean and in a large enough ball).

Some common items that need special recycling (but are in fact recyclable) include: batteries, electronics, and fabric (and clothing). Check with your waste management provider to see what can and can't be recycled in your neighborhood.

Compostable

This is becoming more common in larger metropolitan cities. Composting is a way to turn items made of natural materials back into a nutrient rich soil. Often times the compost is for food scraps, but other items that are fully compostable include yard scraps, dead flowers, items made of untreated wood, and those made of pure cotton. While starting with food scraps is the easiest, the more you look around the more you will find items for other parts of your life that are completely compostable.

Compostable items are great because instead of going to landfill or needing to be processed and turned into something else, they actually breakdown themselves in a natural setting (or in an industrial facility) to create something useful right away.

But, what happens if you have items that are compostable but don't have access to composting. Side note: you can create a compost pile in your own backyard (or under your sink). We know that isn't for everyone though. So, what happens if these items end up in just in your standard trash bin? You might think that it's still an improvement and they will break down, right? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that's not exactly the case. Compostable items break down into nutrient rich soil only if they have the right conditions. And a traditional landfill is not a place with the right conditions.

Industrial facilities have the optimal conditions for composting. These facilities regulate temperature, moisture, and air flow in order to ensure a compostable item breaks down as fast as possible. At-home compost is more prone to temperature/moisture/air flow changes and might not break down as quickly as it would in an industrial setting.

Composting works best when the items have access to oxygen and are regularly being turned over. A landfill is basically the opposite. It's an anaerobic environment where most of the pile actually doesn't have access to oxygen. That means that if your compostable takeout container ends up in the landfill, it won't break down as intended. Instead, it will mostly likely just act like a plastic container and stay around for a lot longer than intended.

So, while recognizing compostable items is a good first step, purchasing and using compostable items in place of other items has the biggest impact when they actually end up in a compost pile. Although, we do want to mention that the production of plastic is pretty nasty for a lot of reasons, so opting for compostable items made of cotton, bamboo, and even PLA (that vegetable based plastic cup you see at some restaurants now), is probably still better for the environment and your health.

Biodegradable

The dictionary definition of biodegradable is a substance that can break down naturally without causing any harm (1). This is very similar to compostable, but the biggest difference is that what it breaks down to doesn't cause harm as opposed to starting with an organically occurring materials. Therefore, man-made or chemically produced items can still be considered biodegradable, while not necessarily being compostable. This is like a square being a rectangle but a rectangle not being a square. Those items that are compostable are also biodegradable, but not everything biodegradable is compostable.

Again, biodegradable options are still a step in the right direction. It does mean that the ingredients break down over time (that's a perk) and when they do break down, the base components are not harmful to the environment (also a perk).

One drawback of biodegradable materials is that there is not necessarily a timeframe for when the items will break down. It could be many years before they start to degrade. In most cases, biodegradable isn't really saying much about the product. Think of it the same way you do products labeled "natural."

The bottom line

If we were to rank these terms for which ones are best for the planet and in turn our health, we'd say first look for items that are compostable, recyclable, and lastly biodegradable. Compostable items, if properly disposed of, will break down completely and can them be used to grow more resources. Recyclable items can be turned into raw materials that can then be used to make new things without needing to create completely new resources. And finally, biodegradable options will eventually break down, but we don't know when and there is no plan to use them for any additional benefit.

Of course, we are big proponents of reusing items when possible, but we also know that it can be incredibly hard to live your life without there being some items that needs to be disposed of. So, go on with this new information to help you think about what to toss and how to do it best.





References

  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/biodegradable
Want an easy way to live healthier?
Sign up for our newsletter! Curated environmental health news delivered to your inbox every three weeks.
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL