Women are born with all the eggs they will ever be able to use. These eggs remain in a primordial state and during each menstrual cycle, a certain number of follicles are activated, and start developing and maturing. Of all eggs that start this process, only one fully matures and is ovulated. Several eggs degenerate in each cycle and never end up being used.
During the process of egg maturation that can take 3-4 months, there is an opportunity to influence the quality of those eggs. Egg quality consists in the ability of the egg to eventually be fertilised, to multiply, to implant in the uterus and develop into a baby. Certain environmental factors can help or hinder egg quality.
Oxidative stress occurs when the cells produce more free radicals than they are able to eliminate. Free radicals are a natural by-product of cell activity, but certain circumstances may increase the production of free radicals. Exogenous causes of oxidative stress include pollution, smoking, alcohol, poor nutrition, obesity, infections, exposure to radiation, pesticides or industrial chemicals and certain medications.
Oxidative stress is thought to affect male and female fertility by causing DNA damage. Minimising exposure to oxidative stress can improve egg quality. Including antioxidants in your diet also neutralises free radicals, so make sure you include fruit, vegetables, vitamin C and selenium.
In modern society people are frequently exposed to different types of radiations, from different sources. It could be either related to everyday life (e.g. televisions, mobile phones, computer devices, occupational equipment) or to the necessity of medical care (e.g. diagnostic imaging, interventional radiology procedures, anticancer therapy).
Non-ionizing Radio Frequency EMFs include frequencies used for cell phones, laptops, computers, microwave ovens and some other higher frequency range. These are thought to induce oxidative stress. Research showed it can reduce sperm count, motility and viability. It can also increase the risk of miscarriage. Avoid having RF EMFs sources close to the pelvic and genital area.
Ionizing radiation is the radiation used in medical care (diagnostic imaging and procedures, radiotherapy). It is known to cause direct damage to cell’s DNA. This is mainly a problem for people requiring high doses of radiation, in which case fertility preservation should be discussed with the medical team.
BPA, Phthalates and other endocrine disruptors
Bisphenol A (BPA) is used in food packaging, industrial materials, dental sealants, and personal hygiene products. It can enter the body through skin, inhalation, and the digestive system. BPA disrupts endocrine pathways, causing hormonal disturbances. In women, it can affect egg maturation and ovulation. In men, BPA disrupts spermatogenesis.
Phthalates are also chemicals used in plastics to make them more flexible. It’s found in flooring, furniture, toys, shower curtains, PVC pipes. They are also used to stabilize scents and are used in products like perfume, cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, candles, nail polish, and hair spray. Just like BPA, phthalates are also endocrine disruptors and interfere with reproductive hormones. Higher levels of phthalates have been associated with disrupted menstruation, ovulation disfunction, poor egg quality and poor sperm quality.
Minimise your exposure to BPA, Phthalates and other endocrine disruptors by:
- Replacing plastic food containers for glass containers.
- Keeping your plastics cool and avoiding heating them in the microwave.
- Eat fresh organic food that doesn’t come in metal cans, plastic containers or packaging.
- Avoid plastic tableware like plates, cups, bottles.
- Choose fragrance free beauty products.
- Choose cleaning products and detergents that are fragrance free or scented with essential oils.
- Avoid synthetic air fresheners and candles.
Women may not be able to improve egg quantity, but it is possible to improve egg quality. Make your environment more egg-friendly by minimising oxidative stress, avoiding daily life sources of radiation close to your pelvic area and by reducing exposure to BPA, Phthalates and other endocrine disruptors.
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