Whether you realize it or not, the environment around you has a big impact on your fertility. Chemicals, toxins, and pesticides can all find their way into your system and wreak havoc. Unfortunately, though, little is actually known about the effects of chemicals and toxins on the male reproductive system. However, because it is easier to evaluate the male reproductive system than the female, the few studies that have been done have generally demonstrated how environmental toxins can contribute to male infertility.
Even though you may not realize it, everyday you are unwittingly exposed to numerous harmful chemicals. What’s worse is the fact that many of these toxins have not actually been thoroughly studied by toxicologists. Moreover, of the chemicals that have been examined, they have often been tested with the assumption that a higher dose results in a more severe effect.
Despite the fact that even low doses of numerous chemicals can do serious damage, often only high chemical levels are studied. However, as it is the low-level of exposure to toxins and chemicals that most people encounter everyday, scientists have finally begun to look at the effects of low-level chemical exposure. Unfortunately, what they are finding is the even a small amount of exposure can have harmful effects on both the male and female reproductive system.
Unlike many other toxins, pesticides are well known to cause health and reproductive problems. In men, prolonged exposure to various pesticides, including kepone, DBCP, and ethylene dibromide, have been found to reduce sperm counts. Other pesticides, particularly DDT and chlordane, have been shown to not only lower a man’s sperm count but also cause damage to the seminiferous tubules in the reproductive system.
While these findings are alarming, it is important to note that many of the studies of pesticide exposure have been conducted on people living in agricultural areas or who regularly work with pesticides. Therefore, these people are much more likely to have a consistent high-level of exposure to the chemicals which the general population wouldn’t. But this doesn’t mean you are free to roll around on your lawn just after it has been sprayed with pesticides. Studies have also shown that health problems can result even with a low-level of exposure.
Avoiding chemicals and toxins is virtually impossible as they can be found in our water, soil, air and food. When chemicals are dumped into our water supply or the ground, the pollution can continue to contaminate the water or soil for years. Other chemicals are placed directly in our foods
Farmers often use pesticides to help preserve their crops. These crops then make their way into your local grocer for your consumption. Foods that have been processed frequently have additives and preservatives added to them so that they will not only taste fresh but also be have a longer shelf life. Animals test have shown some food additives, like MSG, to reduce fertility. Moreover, a diet made up mainly of processed foods has been shown to contribute to obesity, a factor which can also cause fertility problems.
Numerous shampoos, soaps and other personal care items are chock full of harmful chemicals. While many people like to believe that those chemicals that are particularly harmful would be banned, the reality is they are not. One such toxin is phthalates, which is an industrial plasticizer used in various cosmetics and personal care items and has been linked with causing reproductive damage in both men and women.
Despite the fact that Europe has banned the use of phthalates in products and that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found in two separate investigations that both men and women had staggeringly high and unsafe levels of phthalates, the use of the toxin has yet to be prohibited in the United States. And, since American labeling laws do not require that fragrances (where phthalates are often used) list their ingredients on their packaging, it can be difficult to avoid the toxin.
So just how bad are phthalates? Even though women tend to have higher levels of the toxin, it is men who experience the most severe reproductive consequences. In men, phthalates have been shown to cause low sperm counts; damaged or absent epididymus; absent or damaged testicles and absent prostate glands.
Other toxins found in personal care items, as well as in the environment around you, have been shown to be endocrine disrupters. This means that they not only have the ability to imitate other hormones in your body but can even cause your genes to mutate and change. Parabens, for example, are regularly used in cosmetics as a preservative. However, when they are absorbed by your body, they can imitate estrogen and interfere with your body’s natural hormones.
Avoiding the Chemicals
While it is next to impossible to avoid chemical and toxin exposure during your lifetime, it is possible to try and reduce just how much contact you do have with them. By using natural and organic personal care products, buying organic foods, avoiding the use of pesticides on your lawn and plants, and wearing a face mask while working in a well-ventilated when using chemicals (even when you paint or clean your home), you can help minimize your exposure to those toxins that can harm your fertility and your health.