Environmental Toxins’ Effect on Fertility

Learn steps to take to reduce overall exposure to toxins


Environmental toxins are all around us, in the water, air, soil, consumer products and in our food. We are all exposed to toxins to a variable extent and these agents can affect fertility in both men and women.

People at highest risk for toxin exposure are those who live in areas of high pollution or those who work with such toxins in the workplace as pesticides, organic chemicals, heavy metals and radiation. Environmental toxins can have variable effects on your body, including fatigue, headaches, joint pains, nausea and increased risk of cancer.

When it comes to fertility, toxins can have several debilitating effects:

  • They can change a woman’s hormone balance and affect the menstrual cycle
  • They can accelerate aging of eggs
  • Environmental toxins can affect sperm numbers or quality
  • During early pregnancy they can increase the risk of miscarriage or birth defects
  • Later in pregnancy they can affect the growth of the fetus.

While we cannot completely eliminate our exposure to toxins, we can take measures to try to minimize our overall exposure.

  • Choose healthy foods with less pesticide exposure, which may include local produce and organic foods
  • Minimize processed and fast foods
  • Minimize chemical and other toxin exposure in the home or workplace
  • Use gloves, glasses and protective equipment whenever handling chemicals or toxins
  • Stay current with any monitoring program in the workplace
  • Read labels on cleaning solutions and gardening products
  • Minimize eating deep-sea fish such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish, all of which have a more concentrated level of mercury
  • Check for lead-based paint in your home (in older homes).