For women and couples trying to get pregnant and start a family, there is little room for error in terms of taking care of one’s health. Several of these factors are within your control, such as diet, exercise, visiting the doctor or reproductive specialist, as well as taking the necessary supplements to stay in shape.
Several factors that are outside your control exist in the form of environmental hazards. These comprise a wide variety of chemical compounds found in natural and manufactured products, and are relatively invisible. Their presence in the body may be minimal, and they may not even cause any clinical signs or symptoms. Environmental hazards often do not cause any acute illnesses; such clinical silence leads you to assume that there is no problem to address. Nevertheless, almost all human beings are exposed to any number of environmental hazards, and some of them are incompatible with normal reproductive function and fertility.
Here are some common environmental hazards that any woman should be aware of when trying to protect her fertility:
1. Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoate (PFOA): These chemicals are found in a number of products. PFOS exposure occurs when we are in contact with leather, electronic devices, textiles, construction materials, and plastics. PFOA is used to treat packaging and paper materials, protect surfaces on carpeting, textiles, and upholstery, and several other industrial surfactants. Women with higher levels of PFOS and PFOA are more likely to suffer from infertility.
2. Bisphenol-A (BPA): This substance was previously a component used in the manufacture of baby feeding bottles, but is currently being phased out after being found to cause endocrine disorders in infants. BPA is also implicated in causing reproductive problems for women trying to get pregnant, however it is still prevalent in products such as polycarbonate water bottles, tin cans, medical equipment, as well as personal electronic devices.
3. Chlordane: This chemical is a pesticide found in 75% of all homes in the United States, and the Philippines is not necessarily in the clear. This chemical affects male fertility when exposed to higher levels, resulting in lower sperm counts as well as damage to the seminiferous tubules responsible for sperm production.
4. Toluene: Found in consumer products such as Styrofoam, paints, glue, plastics, inks, varnish, this chemical compound increases the risk of male infertility by reducing sperm count.
5. Alkylphenols: These chemicals act as endocrine disruptors, and are found in paint and contraceptive medications. Their effects mimic estrogen, thereby interrupting embryonic development and generalized reproductive function, leading to infertility. Reproductive system derangements also occur in men exposed to these chemicals as well. Alkylphenols are commonly found in laundry detergents, serving to reduce the surface tension in liquids to make the cleaning substances more effective.