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Estrogen and Endo: Lifestyle Tips

Check-out Laura’s article “Estrogen & Endo: Dietary Tips”

Diet is not the only way one can lower their exposure to environmental and human-made estrogens. It’s not just the food itself, but also what we drink and where we store it, that can have an effect.

For instance, sometimes water from our tap can also contain xenoestrogens1; however, bottled water also can contain them, as chemicals from the plastic (such as BPA in the plastic bottle) can leach into the water inside, especially in hot weather2. As such, some health experts recommend getting a reusable metal or glass and installing a water filter on your tap to refill as needed.

There are also other plastic products used for eating that can contain chemicals that are estrogenic. In addition to ditching that disposable water bottle for a reusable, opting-out of plastic in other instances can add to the benefits. In particular, storing food in glass pyrex or metal containers as opposed to plastic and Styrofoam can reduce risk of the chemicals from those containers getting into your food.

Some research has suggested microwaving plastic containers can lead to chemicals leaching into food and higher exposure to BPA and other estrogenic compounds like pthalates, as reported by Time in 2016.3 When you get food to go from your favorite restaurant, considering bringing your own clean reusable containers and asking them to put your food in that instead (I’ve been doing this for a decade, and have never had any issues). Then, when you are home, only heat it up your leftover in microwave-safe glass bowls or plates as opposed to plastic containers- whether disposable or reusable. Also, ditching plastic straws may possibly also decrease plastic chemical exposure (and these things have the extra bonus of being better for our environment, which makes all of us healthier overall!).

But there are also other things you can do that have nothing to do with food or drink and where it’s stored…

Personal care products and clothing

Xenoestrogens aren’t just found in foods. They can be in the many products we use on and in our bodies (like soap, shampoo, lotion, deodorant, cosmetics), as well as what we wear, like clothes or even tampons or sanitary napkins4. Many personal care products contain estrogenic chemicals like phthalates5 and parabens6. Fortunately, in recent years, more public awareness has led to better labels about what products contain/exempt these chemicals and are now more widely available (but still tend to be more likely found in health food stores). For more information on this, you can check out The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website, and find out how to find identify products without these chemicals. You can also check your current products at the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database, which rates thousands of products by category, for toxicity.

Some studies have even suggested feminine care products like tampons and pads can contain synthetic fibers and bleached cotton7 (the bleaching process contains the chemical dioxin, which has been heavily implicated in causing or worsening endo8). As such, opting for organic brands might lower estrogenic exposure there as well. Even clothing nowadays contains more synthetic microfibers and plastics, so trying to buy and wear more clothes made of 100% cotton (and washing them well before putting them on), is another tip that can potentially help lower exposure to estrogenic compounds.

But can you do anything that doesn’t require new shifts in what you consume- whether that be food or products? Yes, there is one big factor your can also incorporate into your weekly routine that can potentially help reduce estrogen in the body and lead to decreased endo symptoms… and it’s completely free.

Exercise

After I had my uterine polyps removed, and was still suffering from endo and my doc also found what he presumed was adenomyosis, he made one main recommendation once I said I didn’t want to take oral contraceptives as follow-up treatment: regular exercise.

How does exercise work to reduce estrogen levels? It flushes excess estrogen out of the body via sweat. In a 1985 study that prescribed a daily exercise routine seven pre-menopausal woman at high risk of breast cancer, estrogen exposure declined by 18.9% over the course of several weeks.9 I have found my periods tend to be lighter and less painful with regular exercise, especially where I am working up a good sweat several times a week.

For those of us who can’t afford or otherwise do not have access to a gym, we can exercise right outside our doorstep or in the comfort of our own home. Whether it’s walking, jogging, cycling, or even dancing or doing aerobics or jumping jacks in our bedroom. Admittedly, I can get a little lazy from time to time and now with chronic pain, incorporating exercise is more of a challenge than it used to be. But I try to get out for a 20 min walk several days a week and move around my apartment doing low impact exercises.

Have you tried any of the above, and have they worked at all for you?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Endometriosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Falconer IR. Are endocrine disrupting compounds a health risk in drinking water? Int J Environ Res Public Health . 2006;3(2):180-184. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16823090. Accessed February 25, 2019.
  2. Hot Liquids Release Potentially Harmful Chemicals in Polycarbonate Plastic Bottles . UC Academic Health Center. http://healthnews.uc.edu/news/?/6387/. Published January 30, 2008. Accessed February 25, 2019.
  3. Waxman OB. That Plastic Container You Microwave In Could Be Super-Toxic. TIME. http://time.com/4229503/plastic-in-microwave-is-it-safe/. Published May 4, 2016. Accessed February 25, 2019.
  4. Kiesel L. Toxic tampons: How ordinary feminine care products could be hurting women. salon. https://www.salon.com/2013/12/22/toxic_tampons_how_ordinary_feminine_care_products_could_be_hurting_women/. Published December 22, 2013. Accessed February 25, 2019.
  5. Chen X, Xu S, Tan T, et al. Toxicity and estrogenic endocrine disrupting activity of phthalates and their mixtures. Int J Environ Res Public Health . 2014;11(3):3156-3168. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24637910. Accessed February 25, 2019.
  6. Engeli R, Rohrer S, Vuorinen A, Herlinger S, et al. Interference of Paraben Compounds with Estrogen Metabolism by Inhibition of 17β-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases. Int J Mol Sc. 2017;18(9). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5618656/. Accessed February 25, 2019.
  7. Scranton A. Chem Fatale. Women's Voices. http://www.womensvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Chem-Fatale-Report.pdf. Accessed February 25, 2019.
  8. Rier S, Foster W. Environmental Dioxins and Endometriosis. Toxicological Sciences. 2002;70(2):161-170. https://academic.oup.com/toxsci/article/70/2/161/1621651.
  9. Kossman DA, et al.. Exercise lowers estrogen and progesterone levels in premenopausal women at high risk of breast cancer. J Appl Physiol. 2011;111(6):1687-1693. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21903887. Accessed February 25, 2019.

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