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Detoxing and Egg Freezing - A Natural Pair
A blog by FairHaven Health, March 8, 2016
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, but do put some in a deep freeze - it’s the newest conundrum facing women. Freezing eggs is one of the hottest topics among women who are in the prime of their fertility, but aren’t sure that “now” is the right time for motherhood. By freezing eggs, women can take at least part of the pressure off of pursuing a career, navigating an illness or finding the right partner before starting a family. Major corporations like Apple and Facebook are now willing to cover the costs of egg freezing for female employees, and fertility specialists throughout the country are heralding the move as a supportive one for women.
Detox Before You Freeze
Before you take the step to freeze your eggs, make sure you build the health of the eggs first. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the personal products (shampoos and cosmetics) we apply, and the cleaning supplies we use often contain harmful chemicals. Toxins in your body affect the health of your egg, which in turn makes fertilization of the egg more difficult, implantation following fertilization less likely to be successful, and miscarriages more frequent due to chromosomal abnormalities. In a recent landmark statement, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) warned that ”exposure to toxic environmental chemicals during pregnancy and breastfeeding is ubiquitous and is a threat to healthy human reproduction”.
What Will a Fertility Detox Help Remove?
Chemicals known specifically as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are the most egregious when it comes to negative effects on fetuses (see chart below). Shocking numbers of endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as dioxins, phthalates, pesticides, Teflon byproducts, flame retardants, mercury, and lead have been found in samples of fetal cord blood and bowel movements in newborns. Doctors are increasingly concerned about the fact that babies are being born pre-polluted from the chemicals in their mother’s body. These chemicals are known to impact IQ, neurodevelopment, and genitalia-related birth defects. EDCs are being blamed for the increase in hypospadias, a condition in which the urethra is located on the underside of the penis, which now affects about one in every 250 male children in the US. American girls are hitting puberty earlier than ever before with a median age of 9 years old for breast development. Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals as early as in the womb has a life long negative effect for a girl.
How Does a Fertility Detox Work?
A detox of any kind focuses on boosting the performance of the body’s own detoxification systems, namely the liver and intestines. Once these organs become overwhelmed, toxins are allowed to build-up and become stored in our tissues where they can cause cellular damage, which can result in a variety of health conditions including reduced fertility.
Your liver makes toxins water-soluble so they can be excreted in the urine or via the bile. Every day, your liver dumps bile into your intestines so the toxins can be eliminated through your stool. Toxins must bind with fiber in your intestines in order to be excreted. If they don’t, the toxins are simply re-absorbed through your intestines, and sent back into your body.
Your liver is the hardest working organ in your body, performing over 450 essential functions each day. The toxins that the liver works so hard to excrete unfortunately take a toll on the liver itself. Exposure to pesticides, heavy metals, chemicals, and air pollution cause your liver to age faster, making it impossible for the liver to keep up with its heavy workload. It can't heal itself and regenerate liver cells, so it starts to deteriorate and shrink.
Your intestinal tract also plays a fundamental role in detox, acting as a first line of defense against toxins. Your gut is tasked with the dirty job of processing and eliminating waste and chemicals from food, as well as serving as a drain for toxins you absorb through your skin and lungs. Like the liver, your gut can become overworked and tired by the daily onslaught of chemicals, and the good bacteria your intestines need are often in short supply, creating a perfect storm of toxic burden.
Natural detox products contain vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs and special ingredients that support the body's own detoxification and cleansing systems. Common ingredients include liver support herbs such as milk thistle and dandelion root, prebiotics and probiotics for restoring friendly bacteria in your gut, citrus pectin to bind to toxins for excretion, and specialty nutrients like calcium-d-glucarate for better liver metabolism.
Antioxidants Pick Up Where Detox Leaves Off
Given the toxic soup in which we live, it is unrealistic to assume your body will successfully remove every toxin. The overflow toxins in your body will lead to an excess of free radicals. If you don’t have enough antioxidants to balance the free radicals, your body will be in what is known as oxidative stress. Egg cells are especially vulnerable to damage from oxidative stress, and living in a chronic state of oxidative stress spells trouble for the quality of your eggs. You can fight the remaining toxins with antioxidants to restore the health of the egg. A growing body of scientific research suggests that supplementing the diet with antioxidant nutrients can increase antioxidant levels throughout the body to help neutralize free radicals and prevent damage to egg cells.
Detox to Give Yourself the Best Chance of Successful Implantation
Once the time is right to use your frozen eggs, consider a detox before starting the process of implantation. Endocrine disrupting chemicals are capable of mimicking hormones and wreaking havoc on systems that rely on our real hormones. The human reproductive system relies heavily on sex hormones to let nature do its work. It’s not hard to imagine that exposure to hormone-altering chemicals can affect whether implantation of previously frozen eggs will be successful. EDCs are remarkably sneaky and capable of increasing or decreasing production of certain hormones, converting one hormone into another, blocking the signaling between hormones, telling cells to die prematurely, and clogging the organs that produce hormones. Using a detox to give your body a fertility boost before the implantation process can increase your chances of success.
Detox to Promote Egg Quality Before Freezing
If you are concerned about preserving your fertility, reducing your exposure to toxins can give your liver and intestines a bit of a break and is a great first step for helping to preserve the quality of your eggs. But, if egg freezing is on the horizon for you, reducing exposure isn’t enough. Consider giving your detoxification systems some extra support by supplementing with natural products that help your liver and gut do their job more effectively before sticking your eggs in the deep freeze.