Xenoestrogens are increasingly being blamed for a whole host of chronic conditions including infertility. To increase fertility naturally you need to become aware of what xenoestrogens are, why they are bad for your health and fertility and how to avoid them.
What are Xenoestrogens?
Xenoestrogens literally mean ‘foreign estrogens’. Xeno is a Greek word for foreign. Any type of estrogen that’s not manufactured by your body can be classified as xenoestrogen. This also includes plant based estrogens called phytoestrogens.
Xenoestrogens vs. Phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogens have a much milder effect on the body than the endogenous (body made) estrogens or other man made (xeno) estrogens. Because of this milder action they can actually be beneficial in treatment of estrogen dominant conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids, polyps and PCOS. This is because they can block the receptors where your regular estrogen or xenoestrogen would dock and prevent it from exerting a much more powerful reaction. However phytoestrogens should be avoided by men with subfertility. Estrogens will interfere with testosterone metabolism in men, and in those men where spermatogenesis (formation and maturation of new sperm) is already compromised further disruptions to the endocrine system should be avoided or minimized.
Why are Xenoestrogens bad?
Xenoestrogens have been shown to interfere with male and female fertility, predispose to estrogen dominant conditions (PCOS, Endometriosis, Fibroids, Uterine Polyps, Estrogen depended cancers such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer), contribute to sperm abnormalities and disrupt reproductive system function with their false messages. In wildlife, particularly fish, xenoestrogens have been shown to cause sex reversal by interfering with the gonadal development.
Some scientists believe that high levels of estrogens/xenoestrogens in humans can contribute to feminization of male fetus and predispose male babies to infertility later in life.
Where are Xenoestrogens found?
According to the European Commission 99% of the 100,000 recently introduced chemicals are under-regulated. Chemicals which find their way to our cleaning products and personal care products are not subject to rigorous testing like drugs and food. Your exposure to xenoestrogens comes mainly from unfiltered tap water, household cleaning products, cosmetics, personal care products and non-organically grown food. Increasing your fertility naturally requires that you become vigilant about your exposure to xenoestrogens.
How to avoid Xenoestrogens?
Here is a very partial list of substances which have been labeled as ‘xenoestrogens’:
- Parabens – found in personal care products, creams and lotions.
- E127 (Erythrosine) – used as red food coloring.
- Phthalates – used as plasticizers in plastic bottles, food wrapping foils and any other plastic items such as toys, containers, tupperware etc…
- DEHP – another PVC plasticizer.
- Propyl gallate – antioxidant used in oil production.
- PCB’s – used in glues, paint and lubricants.
- Atrazine – used as herbicide.
- Pentachlorophenol – used as wood preservative and pesticide.
- Nonylphenol – found in surfactants, detergents, pesticides and emulsifiers.
- Hexachlorocyclohexane and heptachlor – found in pesticides.
- TSP – Tri-sodium phosphates found in washing detergents and fabric softeners.
Some medications also contain xenoestrogens. Medications are not 100% absorbed by the body which means that anywhere between 10%-40% of the medications can reach the waterways and pollute the environment and our food. They are:
- OCP (oral contraceptive pill)
- Progesterone creams with parabens (methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben)
Creams and lotions can be absorbed by the skin and enter our circulation. Dr. Eckhart MD, warns that a substance delivered topically via the skin equals 10 times an oral dose. He also cautions that caffeine found in tea, coffee, colas and other caffeinated drinks potentiates estrogen in the body by as much as 70%. Therefore be mindful of your coffee and cola consumption.
How to increase fertility by avoiding xenoestrogens? Stick to a simple rule!
- Eat only organically grown food.
- Use natural personal care products, cosmetics and household cleaning products.
- Avoid plastic, don’t store food in plastic containers – use glass instead.
- Avoid canned food (cans are lined with plastic inside).
- Avoid teflon cookware and use cast-iron cookware.
- Avoid commercial pesticides and herbicides.
- Drink and shower in filtered water only.
- Avoid dairy as diary is made from animals breast milk which is loaded with estrogens regardless if organic or non-organic. Non-organic dairy has even more estrogens due to all the hormones, drugs and pesticides animals are exposed to in farming.
- If male-factor infertility is present avoid: soy, flaxseeds, canola oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, flaxseed oil and alfalfa sprouts.
And above all become an avid ingredient reader. Read labels of every product you support with your money. After all, your purchasing decisions is what’s keeping these manufacturers in business. By giving your hard earned money to companies which pollute the environment and contribute to your fertility problems you are condoning their manufacturing practices and supporting their growth. By choosing to give your money only to environmentally and health conscious companies you are supporting their efforts and products. We can influence which products will be showing up in the future on our supermarket shelves by saying NO to any product containing substances toxic to our health, fertility and the environment.
I would love to hear your thoughts on increasing fertility and avoiding xenoestrogens. Were you already aware of these substances or was this the first time you heard of them? What do you think about our manufacturing standards and testing methods when it comes to household cleaning products and personal care products?
© 2012 Iva Keene and Natural Fertility Prescription