It's time to learn all those things they never taught us in health class - periods, pregnancy and pelvic floor!
I'm a women's health educator, a nerd when it comes to learning "all of the things", and my obsession is teaching women how to take control of their health and create a life they love!
A xenoestrogen is a type of endocrine disruptor that has an oestrogen-like effect on the body and a significant effect on your fertility.
We know that oestrogen is a key hormone for a healthy menstrual cycle, but when xenoestrogens enter our bodies they block oestrogen receptors so they can’t do their job.
The body thinks there’s not enough oestrogen available and begins to produce more. This will increase the total amount of oestrogen in our bodies and cause oestrogen dominance.
Xenoestrogens don’t break down, they’re stored in our fat cells and a build up over time can lead to breast cancer, obesity, infertility, miscarriage, endometriosis, early onset puberty and diabetes.
In this episode of The Mana Women’s Wellness Podcast, I’m diving deep into the common household items that contain xenoestrogens and hormone disruptors.
Hello, and welcome to episode 24 of The Mana Women’s Wellness Podcast. I’m your host, Rachel and today we’re talking about some of the common items in your house that could be disrupting your hormones, causing wonky menstrual cycles and ultimately impacting your fertility.
Just a head’s up, this episode could cause you to feel a little bit panicky about your house. I’m already aware of these effects and have already done a lot of research in the past about how to replace as much as possible in my house with non-toxic, friendlier options. But that said, even just researching for this episode has triggered a real anxiety in me what more I could be doing to eliminate my exposure to these hormone disrupting chemicals.
So, don’t freak out. Don’t panic. This is a step by step process and it’s virtually impossible to completely eliminate all chemicals from your life. But by being aware of some of the more major disruptors in common everyday items we use all the time, hopefully there are a few simple changes you can make straight away to feel a little better about what you are exposing yourself and your family to. And it’s especially important if you’re struggling with irregular menstrual cycles or awful period symptoms or struggling to conceive.
So, with that said, let’s talk about hormone disruptors.
Endocrine Hormone Disruptors (EDCs) are any chemical that can alter how hormones work in your body. Unfortunately, these disruptors are everywhere and we’re starting to discover the negative effects they have on thyroid function, the nervous system, digestion and of course your fertility. Some you may have heard of before, some you may not, and we often see them on ingredient lists as glycols, phthalates, often listed as fragrance, parabens, ethanolamides and BPA, which we often find in plastics. These chemicals are added for a reason, for things like texture, to help something like makeup spread more easily on your skin, they’re often used for cleaning, to remove stains, as preservatives. But they have a negative effect on your body. And the problem is that we’re being exposed to all these different disruptors throughout our lifetime, they’re slow to break down in the environment and the long-term effects in humans just aren’t known.
But we do know that they influence how our hormones work and interact in our bodies. And we know that any type of hormonal imbalance has an effect on our menstrual cycle, on ovulation and ultimately our fertility. Our body’s normal functioning involves tiny fluctuations in hormone levels, and these small changes can have more significant effects on our bodies. Our endocrine system releases hormones that signal to different tissues in the body what to do next, and it’s all one big domino effect. When they enter our body, these disruptors mimic our natural hormones, which blocks or binds to hormone receptors. Hormone sensitive organs like the uterus and breasts are particularly vulnerable to this.
A type of endocrine disruptor that has a significant effect on our fertility are called xenoestrogens, which have an oestrogen-like effect on the body. We know that oestrogen is really important for a healthy menstrual cycle, but when xenoestrogens enter our bodies they block these receptors so they can’t do their job, so the body thinks there’s not enough oestrogen and begins to produce more. This will increase the total amount of oestrogen in our bodies and cause oestrogen dominance. Xenoestrogens don’t break down, so they’re stored in our fat cells and a build up over time can lead to cancers, particularly breast cancer, as well as prostate and testicular cancers in males, obesity, infertility, miscarriage, endometriosis, early onset puberty and diabetes.
So, where do we find these hormone disruptors?
Cleaning our house can actually introduce a whole heap of new toxins into our homes in the harsh cleaning products that we use. It’s often impossible to know what is in a particular product because unlike food, companies are not required to list ingredients on the label. Some companies do voluntarily provide this information though, so they’re the ones to be looking at first, as well as any that are specifically eco-friendly and non-toxic. You can also go down the DIY path and make your own household cleaners from cheap staples like vinegar and baking soda. I am gradually replacing everything in my house with a combination of vinegar, baking soda and coconut oil and honestly my toilet has never been more sparkling.
Your skin is your body’s biggest organ. What you put on your skin matters because everything that goes on will be absorbed into the body. So next time you’re putting on makeup, have a read of the ingredients. How many of them can you pronounce? Think about how nicotine patches work for smokers. The contents of that nicotine patch are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Yuck. You want your skincare to contain no synthetic ingredients. Skincare and make up that is non-toxic is becoming more easily accessible and more affordable too. And there are online stores now that have done all the hard work of label reading for you, so you know whatever you purchase from that store contains no nasties. And that is where I like to start when exploring new brands that are affordable and good for me.
Plastic is everywhere. The trend away from plastic is becoming more common which is good for us and the environment. BPA is the big one here, which is used in shatterproof plastic. And a lifetime of exposure can cause problems.
Choose glass or stainless steel over plastic to store your food. If you’ve got a cupboard full of plastic storage containers, you can use them to store other things in your house, just not your food and never microwave them. Replace plastic bags with reusable lunch bags and cling wrap with beeswax coated cloth instead. Choose wooden or cotton toys over plastics, especially when bub is in that put everything in the mouth stage.
Canned food, while convenient, may also be lined with BPA to stop the cans from eroding. Choose fresh, frozen or dried foods that aren’t packaged in cans where possible.
If you can, go organic too to reduce exposure to pesticides. Some fruits and vegetables are more likely to contain higher amounts of pesticides than others, so do your research based on the foods you most commonly eat and work out where you could go organic. And always wash your fruit and veg before you eat it too.
Filtered tap water is the way to go too. Drinking out of a glass obviously reduces plastic waste and exposure to BPA, but tap water on its own can contain a whole lot of hormone disruptors. Dan talked me into filtered tap water as soon as we moved in together because he used to work on water mains and he said that if you could see what the inside of those pipes looked like; you would not want to drink the water straight from the tap. That was enough for me, but research also shows that tap water can contain residue from birth control pills, lead and copper is a problem in America so filtering your water can help to reduce your exposure to these disruptors too.
At this point you’re probably feeling quite defeated and overwhelmed by the thought that hormone disrupting chemicals are in everything! I’ve been there too and ultimately until we make changes on a global level, it’s going to be really hard to complete eliminate these disruptors from our lives. But the things I’ve focused on today are those that are the easiest to change. And you don’t have to go and clear out your house overnight, just gradually replace what you’re currently using with another more hormone-friendly option as you run out and need a replacement.
If you’re planning for pregnancy or currently pregnant, this is really a time to think about making some changes because this is when our babies are particularly vulnerable and if you’re struggling to fall pregnant, this might be an easy area to make some changes and rebalance your hormones to improve your chances of conceiving.
Here’s how to reduce your exposure as much as possible:
1 – Wash your hands regularly and before eating, and you’ll remove a lot of chemical residue from your skin.
2 – Choose organic foods where possible, or wash and peel non-organic fruit and veg. Buy hormone-free meat and dairy products and drink filtered water.
3 – Reduce your use of plastic as much as possible. Don’t microwave food in plastic containers and store food in glass, ceramic or stainless steel containers and avoid cling wrap.
4 – Dust and vacuum often. A lot of the things in our house, from couches to electronics contain flame-retardant chemicals, obviously to avoid everything in our house bursting into flames in case of a fire. And these chemicals can escape and collect as dust in your house. You can’t replace everything in your house with flame-retardant-free versions, but vacuuming and dusting more regularly, using a vacuum with a filter that traps dust particles, can reduce your exposure to chemicals that can build up in your home.
5 – Use chemical-free, biodegradable laundry and household cleaning products. DIY as much as possible to save yourself money and potential exposure. Remember, baking soda and vinegar can be used for almost everything.
6 – Tampons, pads, toilet paper – choose chlorine free and unbleached paper products. Organic pads and tampons are the way to go, or start using a menstrual cup instead. You won’t look back!
7 – Beauty and skincare products should be as natural as possible, avoid nail polish, use natural fragrances like essential oils and chemical-free soaps and toothpastes.
8 – Choose fragrance-free. Fragrance isn’t essential for a product to work and if the vague word “fragrance” or “perfume” is listed in the ingredients, choose something else. Fragrance pops up everywhere, in bin bags, nappies, especially cleaning products. Use essential oils, open windows, fresh flowers to avoid bad smells so you don’t have to cover them up.
That is it for today’s episode. This is a topic I am very passionate about because once again, it’s stuff that nobody is telling us and when you start to look into it, it’s really quite alarming! Of course, we have to live our lives, and we can’t completely eliminate all exposure to these endocrine disruptors. But we can make small and gradual changes over time to reduce our exposure as much as possible and see positive effects on our menstrual cycles as a result.
If you learnt something new or found value in today’s episode, I’d love to hear from you! Send me an Instagram DM, post it on your stories – share a story of yourself listening to the podcast – and let me know what you want me to talk about. This podcast is for you and so I want to talk about the things that are most important to you!
If you want to learn more, you can get today’s show notes with everything I talked about in this episode, as well as links to freebies and other related episodes at fertilityco.com.au/24.
If you’re just getting started on your natural fertility journey, if you want to ditch hormonal contraceptives (also a hormone disruptor) or if you want to improve your chances of conceiving quickly and naturally, then you need to grab my free Fertility Roadmap. This is my super simple 3 step system to understanding your body’s natural fertile signs and pinpointing ovulation day so that you can use this knowledge to achieve (or avoid) pregnancy and it’s available with today’s show notes at fertilityco.com.au/24
I will see you in next week’s episode. Bye for now and don’t forget that knowledge is power!
When you truly understand your body, you are empowered to make informed decisions and take control of your health!
Until next time.
Want to say goodbye to hormonal contraceptives and their weird and unpleasant side effects?
Want to improve your chances of conceiving quickly and naturally?
You need my Fertility Roadmap – My simple 3-step system to understanding your body’s natural fertile signs and pinpointing ovulation day so that you can use this knowledge to achieve (or avoid) pregnancy.
Does your pelvic floor need a little extra TLC? Take the Pelvic Floor Quiz and find out how to start strengthening your pelvic floor today!
Want to make sure you’re exercising safely during your pregnancy? Get your Free Guide: 10 Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy.
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Get my simple 3-step system to understanding your body’s natural fertile signs and pinpointing ovulation day so that you can use this knowledge to achieve (or avoid) pregnancy
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I'm obsessed with all things periods, pregnancy, pelvic floor and helping women just like you to navigate all of life's major milestones!
I'm a physiotherapist and natural fertility educator and my passion is teaching women how to take control of their health.