I can’t remember when I realized that big brand shampoos, toothpastes, body lotions and deodorants were filled with chemicals that were, in a word, nasty. It’s been a slow journey, but these days I never wander down the ‘personal care’ aisle in any supermarket. Now I understand that my skin is the largest organ in my body and that putting chemicals on it is worse than eating them. They can be absorbed straight into my bloodstream without filtering or processing of any kind. They bypass digestion and go directly to other organs, causing havoc.
Now I only buy shampoo, moisturiser, toothpaste and deodorant from my local health shop. They are a little more expensive, but I think it’s worth the extra spend to protect my health and my fertility. I also use much less than I used to, so each product lasts much longer.
It might seem bonkers to spend €5 on toothpaste or €12 on 100ml of moisturiser, but there is method in my madness.
Next time you’re in the supermarket or pharmacy, take a few minutes to look at the ingredients list of your regular shampoo or toothpaste. You will more than likely see sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and/or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Both irritate skin & eyes and can cause severe inflammation in the skin. SLES is frequently contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a byproduct of the process to make SLES more gentle and is a known carcinogen. It won’t be listed as an ingredient because it is not part of the formulation, but has a long life in your body as your liver struggles to metabolise it.
You may also see fragrance which sounds like it might come from fields of French lavender or perhaps roman chamomile.
Fragrance is in fact made from petrochemicals and phthalates – chemicals shown in research to lower sperm count, reduce sperm motility and cause birth defects in male reproductive systems. They’re also linked to obesity, diabetes and thyroid problems, which can affect fertility in both men & women.
There’s a long, long, long list of chemicals to be wary of and it can get a little bit overwhelming when faced with replacing all of your personal care products.
Here are my tips to help you live the life of a fertility god or goddess.
1. Turn off (or even better, throw away) your TV
We are constantly bombarded with adverts to buy the latest moisturiser, shampoo, mascara or deodorant. Those that are advertised on TV are sure to be full of nasty chemicals. One way to remain blissfully unaware of new products, sure to mess with your hormones, is to turn off the TV.
2. Shop around the edges of the supermarket
This is where all the fresh food is. Avoiding the central aisles will help you to stay away from personal care products full of nasty chemicals.
3. Get to know your local health shop
Staff in these smaller shops have more than likely tried out most of the products they stock and will give you an honest opinion on how well they work. They’ll also have feedback from other customers to share with you, so ask for advice and start building a relationship.
4. When you’re shopping, say no to receipts!
Thermal receipt paper is often coated with BPA which imitates oestrogen and tricks your body into thinking it’s the real thing, altering hormone levels and affecting fertility. Handling receipts allows the BPA to be absorbed through your skin and into your blood. Say no to those pesky pieces of paper that you’re just going to throw out anyway. If you really need the receipt, ask if it can be put directly into your shopping bag, where it can stay until you’re sure it’s safe to chuck.
5. Avoid SLS, SLES, Parabens, Phthalates, Dioxins, Perchlorate, TPHP (often found in nail polish) PFOA & BPA.
Hint! You’ll find these chemicals in expensive brands too. Just because you spend a lot on moisturiser doesn’t mean it’s safe and free of those chemicals that do so much damage.
(For more info on chemicals that disrupt hormones, visit the Environmental Working Group website www.ewg.org)
Remember that even the smallest change can have a big impact, so take it slowly. Work through your bathroom cabinet of products methodically. Slowly but surely, begin to replace the toxic products with more natural alternatives.
Have you made big changes to the products you choose to put on your skin? What did you discover, as you cleared out your bathroom cabinet? Perhaps you’re just learning about these issues now and feel overwhelmed. Wherever you’re at, you’re not alone. Join The Fertility Companion Community for support and inspiration.
Register here for my free Guide to Keeping your Hormones in Check and be part of a growing community of people who want to THRIVE on their fertility journey.