The connection between environmental toxins and infertility has been popping up in the news more and more often. This is good and bad. Good, because it means researchers are actually looking into things. Bad, because controlling the environmental toxins we’re exposed to isn’t always easy.
A recent study, which I read about at MSNBC.com, discovered a possible connection between infertility and chemicals known as perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs. They specifically looked at perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoate, or PFOS and PFOA.
The study looked at a group of 1,200 newly pregnant women, who are part of a long-term health study. They found that of the group, 30% tried for more than six months before conceiving, and half of that tried for more than a year.
Using blood work, the researchers found varying levels of PFCs in all the women’s blood. The researchers grouped the women according to the levels of PFCs found in their bloodstream. What they found is thought provoking.
The women with the highest levels of PFOS in their bloodstream were up to 134% more likely to have taken six months or more to conceive, and the women with high levels of PFOA were up to 154% more likely to need more than six months to get pregnant.
These chemicals are found in a number of products. According to PollutioninPeople.org, PFCs are found in grease-resistant food packaging (like popcorn bags), DuPont’s Teflon products (like that great non-stick frying pan you may have), water-resistant clothing, and personal care products like shampoo and dental floss.
The bottom line – these PFCs are everywhere.
The researchers in the article at MSNBC.com were quoted as saying it’s too early to tell women trying to get pregnant to avoid these chemicals just yet, and that more research needs to be done.
I agree that more research should be done, but for those of us already struggling with infertility, it might help to at least make some effort to limit our exposure. And not just to PFOs.
The study got me thinking again about what environmental toxins I have in my home – cleaning products, for example, and even what shampoo I’m using. At one time, I was extra careful about buying natural cleaners and even natural shampoo. (Though, a word of warning, just because a product is labeled “natural” or “organic”, it may not really be so.)
I wasn’t careful just because of fertility, but also because of asthma and environmental concern.
Then, we moved to a place where finding good quality, natural cleaners was trickier, and more expensive. Our cleaning ladies complained about my natural-but-not-great-working cleaners, and they stopped selling the soaps and shampoos I loved at the local health food store. I slowly got lax about what I’ve been using in the house.
When I read this study yesterday, I started to rethink. I was never happy with my choice to stop using natural products in my home and on my body, but I wasn’t actively doing something either. I called up my husband, and we talked about this study.
We also talked about how it was a bit silly to spend hours driving to and from the fertility clinic and spending all kinds of money on fertility drugs, but refuse to put a tad more effort into finding healthier options for our home and bodies. At the very least, we could be more careful about what we eat on, breath in, and rub onto our skin.
The end result of our conversation: my husband stopped at a health food store an hour away from our home, and picked up healthier (and better quality!) cleaners, including laundry detergent, dishwasher tablets, and general cleaning sprays. Oh, and he found the natural shampoo and conditioner I like.
Do I think you should jump up and go throw out all your old cleaners and body care products? No, not really. Do I think this new study is reason to go crazy over what shampoo or body care products we use? No. But it sure did get me thinking.
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