You may be trying to conceive now, preparing for IVF, or planning to become pregnant in the future. In any case, you should be aware that cosmetics can disrupt your plans. The one that is stored on the shelf in the bathroom is lined up on the dressing table or lies in the basket of the online store.
MedAboutMe tells what means to refuse anyone who wants to maintain reproductive health.
What is fertility
The ability of a person to procreate is called fertility. This parameter determines a person’s chances of a successful conception and a healthy pregnancy. The most important factors that influence it are age and genetics. But new research shows that’s not all!
Scientists have studied how the means used by a person in self-care affect his health. The data obtained was disappointing. Some popular cosmetic ingredients not only impair health, but can also put an end to dreams of children.
Cosmetics and reproductive health
Cosmetics manufacturers advise applying their products to the face, spraying on the armpits, spreading over the skin of the body and using for intimate hygiene. But hardly anyone thought about the fact that shampoos, deodorants, soaps, toothpastes, creams and scrubs require more attention when choosing than just studying the smell, color and consistency of products.
And you need to be especially careful when planning the conception of a child — both women and men.
The highest concern among physicians and scientists is caused by endocrine disruptors. This is a large group of chemicals that can be absorbed by the skin and enter the body, changing how it works. And although some world organizations (one of the most famous — FDA) establish safe levels for such substances, many experts are convinced that there are no safe levels.
«Because every body reacts differently to the chemicals in cosmetics, it’s impossible to predict what effect endocrine disruptors will have on health,» says Dr. Lucky Sekhon, obstetrician-gynecologist, reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist. “At the same time, environmental conditions in a person’s place of residence can exacerbate underlying fertility problems and increase the likelihood of hormonal problems in unborn children who were exposed to it in utero.”
major endocrine disruptors
Endocrine disruptors are defined as chemicals that can interfere with the body’s endocrine system (that is, the glands that produce hormones) and have harmful effects on the reproductive, nervous, and immune systems.
“Endocrine disruptors affect a woman’s body by mimicking or blocking the action of hormones and, as a result, impair fertility,” explains a researcher at the Andrology and Embryology Laboratory. Claire O’Neill. “Cosmetics can also affect the body of a man, changing the parameters and quality of sperm and disrupting the processes of its production.”
What chemicals should you pay attention to first?
“Phthalates can be found in many cosmetic products, such as lotions, moisturizers and gels, perfumes,” says the researcher. Claire O’Neill. — Especially dangerous is phthalate, which is hidden under the acronym DEHP. Scientists have linked it to preterm birth and intrauterine growth retardation in children.”
Studies have shown that in women undergoing IVF protocols, increased levels of DEHP phthalates lead to a decrease in the number of eggs, a decrease in the likelihood of pregnancy and live birth, and an increase in the risk of miscarriage.
And other studies have found a link between increased levels of phthalates in the body and reduced sperm quality in men. «One study showed that levels of DEP phthalates and its metabolites were significantly higher in infertile men than in healthy men,» says Claire O’Neill.
2. Chemical sunscreens
High-spectrum sunscreens can also be detrimental to health. Chemical filters are responsible for the high level of SPF in such products.
“Some active ingredients in sunscreens that block UV rays, such as oxybenzone, can affect a man’s sperm quality and disrupt hormones,” the health consultant warns. Lisa Richards. “Safe sunscreen cosmetics are mineral-based products that, instead of chemical SPF filters, contain physical ones, such as zinc or titanium dioxide.”
3. Long chain parabens
Parabens are a large group of chemical compounds. They increase the shelf life of products and prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. But not all of them are dangerous.
Scientists warn that long-chain parabens can potentially harm the body. They can be found as preservatives in moisturizers and sunscreens, cleansing cosmetics, deodorants, shaving gels, toothpaste, shampoos and conditioners.
“The most common parabens are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and ethylparaben,” says Dr. Lucky Sehon. “They are known to disrupt hormones by binding to estrogen receptors in the body.”
Lead compounds are most commonly found in lipsticks. During a conversation or eating from painted lips, they easily enter the body.
“Lead poisoning is very dangerous for the female reproductive system,” warns Dr. Lucky Sehon. “It can cause menstrual irregularities, hasten the onset of menopause and reduce fertility.”
5. Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAs)
They are added to product formulas to improve the penetration of active ingredients into the skin. They are often present in moisturizing and tonal cosmetics. Studies have shown that they have a negative impact on human reproductive health. Therefore, anything that has the abbreviation PTFE or contains the word fluoro in the name should be avoided.
How to improve your reproductive health
To maintain the ability to conceive and give birth to healthy children, experts recommend buying «clean» cosmetics. The options you need can be found on the shelf of eco-products in the store.
However, keep in mind that sperm quality and egg health do not change overnight. “For example, a sperm cycle takes 74 days, so you need to make changes to your routine now to see benefits in a few months,” concludes the health consultant. Lisa Richards.
The Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) Study: a prospective preconception cohort / Messerlian C., Williams PL, Ford JB, et al // Hum Reprod Open. — 2018
The health controversies of parabens / Kirchhof MG, de Gannes GC // Skin Therapy Lett. — 2013
Exposure to endocrine disruptors during adulthood: consequences for female fertility / Rattan S., Zhou C., Chiang C., et al // J Endocrinol. — 2017