Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals and Endometriosis: Part 1
Hormone-disrupting chemicals can have a negative impact on health. This two-part article will cover the two chemicals that have been most researched for their negative health impact on those with endometriosis.
What are phthalates?
Phthalates, pronounced tha-late, are the name given to a wide class of chemicals that are used in many industries, including the food packaging and beauty industry. These chemicals function to make plastics soft and malleable, such as tubes for face creams, plastic bags for storing fruits and vegetables, and plastic food wrap. Beauty products and cosmetics incorporate them directly into their products as part of their fragrance such as in lotions, fake tans, nail polish, and hair spray.
Endometriosis sufferers know that this disease presents differently in every person. This is in part of why it often takes it so long to get a proper diagnosis. Investigators are still searching for what triggers endometriosis. It is unlikely that they will find just one culprit. It is more likely to be the culmination of various factors; However, hormone-disrupting chemicals may be one of these associated factors.1 Studies show that those that are exposed to higher levels of phthalates have an increased risk of developing endometriosis.2 Fertility issues are increased in those with endometriosis and for some sufferers an additional burden that is associated with endometriosis. Early studies show that increased levels of phthalates are associated with increased rates of infertility in females.3,4
The delicate balance of the female hormone system is already challenged with endometriosis. If you have endometriosis and are thinking about starting a family, perhaps making a few simple easy changes to reduce your exposure to phthalates might help tip the balance in your favor.
How do I know if my product contains phthalates?
The most simple way to find out if your product contains phthalates is to read the ingredient list and see if it contains any ingredients in that end in – “phthalate”. Currently, the most commonly used member of the phthalate family is diethylphthalate (DEP).5
How can I minimize my exposure to phthalates?
- Buy products in glass whenever possible
- Replace plastic food covers with beeswax covers
- Remove your salad greens, fruits, and vegetables from their storage bags and place them into glass storage in the refrigerator.
- Avoid products that have recycling code-3 written on their packaging
- If the product does cite the source of the fragrance or perfume, avoid it.
- Opt for fragrance or scent-free products.
- If you buy products that are stored in plastic, change them to glass containers when you get home. Whilst some exposure may have occurred, this can be minimized in longer-term storage by swapping to glass.
- Look for phthalate-free labels on your household and beauty products
Do you have tips or suggestions on how you avoid phthalates?
People with endometriosis may also have bladder issues. Have you experienced overactive bladder (urinary frequency or urgency)?
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