Fertility and Exposure to Chemicals
It’s normal to not think about many of the everyday household products you buy, but there are certain chemicals found in many household products that can have a direct effect on your ability to conceive. Substances like BPA, parabens and phthalates can disrupt the endocrine system, which includes the thyroid.
The normal function of the thyroid is important when you are trying to get pregnant because its hormones work to control proper brain development. When there is a disruption of the endocrine system, however, it can result in difficulty conceiving, miscarriage, birth defects, or various health problems later on in the baby’s life.
How Common Are Thyroid Problems?
Thyroid problems are fairly common and affect around one in three people. Thyroid disorders are also believed to be related to fertility issues. At the same time, thyroid disorders can be treated and should not hinder a couple’s ability to have children at some point.
Types of Thyroid Problems
In particular, women can be affected by thyroid problems when trying to conceive. Thyroid glands that are either under- or overactive can adversely affect one’s ability to get pregnant. Hypothyroidism can make it more difficult to conceive, while hyperthyroidism can adversely affect a pregnancy and lead to the woman’s experiencing a miscarriage. Additionally, the unborn baby can have malformations while developing in the womb.
Fortunately, both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can be successfully treated with medication. Generally speaking, treatment options involve hormones to balance out either condition. In addition, some studies have shown that women with hypothyroidism who received medication for treatment were able to conceive relatively quickly.
It’s also important for thyroid levels to be closely monitored during pregnancy to avoid the risk of a miscarriage or developmental problems in the unborn child. A woman who has thyroid problems and who is pregnant needs to speak with her OB/GYN and endocrinologist and the two doctors should be in contact to discuss the best options for the patient and the child.
Common Endocrine Disrupters
Endocrine disrupters should be avoided if you are trying to conceive. Both women and men can experience adverse effects when exposed to these chemicals over a period of time. The following are common endocrine disrupters:
- Bisphenol A (BPA)
- Heavy metals
- Skin-care products
- Hair dyes
Limiting your exposure to these substances is nearly impossible, but there are steps couples can take to increase their chances of conceiving:
- Store food and drinks in containers that don’t contain BPA
- Avoid or reduce the use of cosmetics with harmful ingredients and use natural products instead
- Avoid food with high mercury or lead content
- Fully wash all fruits and vegetables or switch to organic
- Reduce your intake of caffeine
- Avoid smoking and/or limit secondhand smoke exposure
Mind Your Iodine Level
Your level of iodine is absolutely essential when you are trying to conceive. Adequate amounts of iodine are also necessary for proper thyroid function. As a result, it’s important to consume foods that are high in iodine, such as seafood and certain dairy products. You can also take iodine supplements.
Always speak with your doctor first before taking any supplement and explain that you are trying to conceive.
In the End
Keeping your thyroid functioning properly and limiting your exposure to harmful chemicals found in everyday products can keep you healthier in general, but it can be particularly helpful when you are trying to get pregnant to have the family you’ve always wanted.