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If you and your partner are struggling with fertility, you may be looking at every factor that could be affecting your odds of conceiving. Food, fitness, and health history are some obvious factors, but have you considered fragrance? The luxuriously scented sets of soap and lotion in the bathroom, “fresh and floral” clothes detergent, that spritz of sexy perfume; these innocent-seeming scents might put you in a baby-making mood, but may sabotage the making of a baby. Here’s how fragrance may be impacting your fertility.
If you have strived to remove endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) found in plastics, personal care products, and even receipt paper, but are still using products with “fragrance” or “parfum” then those EDCs are likely still there.
Under an FDA labeling loophole, companies may list “fragrance” or “parfum” without disclosing what chemicals are actually contained in “fragrance.” This was intended to protect trademark secrets and blends, but in reality, allows thousands (3,163 to be exact) of chemicals to hide in everyday beauty and cleaning products! (1)
Because of the fragrance loophole, it’s not enough for something to be labeled “paraben or phthalate free.” If fragrance (with undisclosed ingredients) is listed, these chemicals are likely included.
These ingredients sound reasonable enough at first glance, however, studies have shown definite downsides. Chemicals like phthalates, BHT, oxynols and parabens may throw off the delicate hormone balance. This is especially problematic for those trying to conceive or who are currently pregnant.
When hormone balance is disrupted, the needed hormone messages are not sent where they need to go or in the right amounts. This disrupts thyroid function, estrogen-action, and ovulation. How do you know if these hormones are affected? Are you tired all the time, losing your hair, have cold hands or feet, and are gaining or unable to lose weight? This could be signs of thyroid dysfunction. Do you experience irregular cycles, painful periods, or severe PMS? You might be experiencing estrogen-dominance which is an imbalance of your levels of estrogen and progesterone.
Many chemicals found in fragrance, like phthalates, are toxic to your ovaries and impact your fertility . They damage follicles in their development into eggs.(2) Phthalates also mess with your ovaries’ ability to produce estrogen and progesterone, further throwing off your hormonal balance.
You may also like: 5 toxins to avoid in your beauty products
Men’s fertility can be affected too! (3) Men’s ability to create sperm (spermatogenesis)is disrupted, which can lead to a reduced sperm count.(3) These chemicals can also alter sperm genes related to growth and development impacting the early development of a baby. (4)
High concentrations of these chemicals in couples undergoing IVF treatments has been associated with increased risk for failed IVF and miscarriage. (3)
These chemicals are inflammatory in nature. Women use on average 12 different products every day which expose them to 168 chemicals. (5) Think about the amount of chemical exposure over the years, over a lifetime! Every swipe with a scented wipe or application of fruity lip gloss increases the risk for hormone imbalance and developing diabetes. (6) In pregnancy, hormonal disruption and inflammation increase risks for birth defects, preeclampsia, and low birth rate. (7,8,9)
Women, on average, use more personal care products than men. This means they have an increased exposure to chemical toxins in fragrance. This increased exposure plus the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy and postpartum, may explain why more women suffer from autoimmune conditions than men. Not only is developing an autoimmune condition a major health concern, but conditions such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, if uncontrolled, increase the risk of infertility, lower IQ scores in babies born, and may increase the risk of miscarriage by as much as 300%. (7-9)
Unfortunately, not just in that spritz of perfume.
Removing the ingredient “Fragrance” doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy nice-smelling things!
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