You’re probably aware by now that there are a host of environmental factors linked to infertility. You can read about some of the biggies in our blog, “7 Ways Your Home Could Be Making You Infertile.” Many of the biggest “enemies” out there are endocrine disruptors – chemicals or products that affect human hormone production. So, it’s probably not much of a surprise when we tell you that early menopause has also been linked to common everyday chemicals, products and even food.

7 Ways You May Be Bringing On Early Menopause

Of course, early menopause is a fear for women concerned about infertility. However, it should be a concern for every woman. Once the production of sex hormones – predominantly estrogen and progesterone – declines, risks for serious health conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart attack begin to increase.

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The following is a list of 7 very common activities, behaviors or scenarios that may bring on early menopause.

  1. Drinking or eating out of plastic. The verdict regarding polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, was in a long time ago. (They’re bad for you!) So, we’ve all been running around purchasing PCB-free products, right? Well, assuming the labels are correct (which they aren’t always, and regulation is pretty loose in the Asian countries where most of it is made), there are other issues with plastics. Chemicals like phthalates (more on them next) and others still have a toxic effect on the human body. Your best bet is to ditch plastic altogether and only use food storage and water containers that are glass or stainless steel. If you do insist on keeping plastic in your life, please do not microwave it and try to keep it from heating up, which can cause more dramatic off-gasing of toxic chemicals.
  2. Not reading product labels on health and beauty products. We told you we’d illuminate the topic of phthalates for you, so here we go. Phthalates are insidious things and are included in almost anything that you apply to your skin, hair or body – unless marked otherwise. They are sneaky too because, for example, your shampoo bottle or lotion may not have the word phthalate in the label, but it probably does list the generic term, “FRAGRANCE.” In almost all cases, “FRAGRANCE” is a term that means “FAKE SCENT” – and phthalates are used to create those. One of the best ways to save your eyeballs and valuable time is to look for “Phthalate Free” labels on healthcare and beauty products.
  3. Wearing Perfume or Cologne. Considering Number 2, you won’t be shocked to learn that perfumes and colognes also contain phthalates, unless labeled otherwise. Virtually all commercial perfumes and colognes are created in the laboratory using chemicals and/or a combination of chemicals and natural ingredients. Look for perfumes and colognes that are labeled “phthalate–free.” You can also look for scented oils in your local health food store. Have fun and create a signature scent using essential oils that smell good and are also healthy for your body.
  4. Eating Meat and Animal By-Products. You don’t have to adopt a total vegan lifestyle, but the reality is that animals are eating food products grown in contaminated soil and watered with contaminated water. Some of them are further contaminated via the heavy use of antibiotics and hormones. Fish are swimming around in polluted lakes, rivers and oceans. Thus, meat, fish and dairy products can contain PCBs, phthalates, heavy metals, hormones and other chemicals known to cause early menopause. Eat organic meats and animal by-products or those grown by local farmers who can verify the type of feed and lifestyle they enjoy. Try going vegetarian at least once or twice a week to reduce your total intake of potential contaminants – it will be good for your body too.
  5. Eating produce grown using pesticides and herbicides. No surprise here, pesticides and herbicides are a major source of chemicals that have been linked to infertility – both male and female – as well as early menopause. Make the switch to products that are labeled Organic, pesticide-free or are grown locally by farmers who take a zero-harmful-chemical approach to their food production methods.
  6. Smoking. It’s a hard habit to break, but if a dramatically elevated cancer risk, heart disease, stroke and the fact that your second- and third-hand smoke is toxic to others aren’t enough to sway you, maybe this will. According to the 8th Edition of Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, women who smoke undergo menopause an average of 1.5 years earlier than their non-smoking counterparts.
  7. You have a particular medical condition associated with menopause. Certain medical conditions, like autoimmune disorders or genetic diseases, can cause early menopause. So, too, can reproductive cancers and/or common cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. If you have a medical condition linked to early menopause, or are going to undergo a cancer treatment associated with future infertility, schedule an appointment to speak with a fertility specialist and learn more about your future parenting options. With the right preparation, you may still be able to have a healthy child of your own using your egg, or a donor egg, and your partner’s sperm.

Are you worried you may be experiencing early menopause before you’re through having children? Contact RRC to learn more about your options.

Image courtesy of hinnamsaisuy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Mother’s Day. Talk about a calendar date that puts the spotlight on your inability to conceive, have a baby and be a mother like everyone else. Or, at least, that’s what it can feel like, anyway.

Depending on where you are in your infertility diagnosis or fertility treatment plan, Mother’s Day can be a slightly painful reminder that chokes you up a few times or it can be a devastating event that sends you back under the covers until the following Monday.

Happy Mother's Day

Survival Tips For (Yet) Another Mother’s Day

If you are having hard time facing up to Mother’s Day this year, we have a few ideas that will help you survive it with your heart and mind intact (mostly, anyway!).

  1. Send your friends an Infertility Etiquette Guide. We’ve written in the past about all the annoying things people feel compelled to share with you when they know you’re trying to have a baby. Resolve, one of the leading resources and supports for those facing infertility, has the perfect solution for you: The Infertility Etiquette Guide. Send a link to family and friends, and have them send it to their family and friends, to help eliminate these well-intentioned but completely unnecessary quips once and for all.
  2. Host the big event. Some of us need to escape from the world to deal with things, others need to be busy-busy-busy. If you fall into the latter category, consider hosting the brunch, lunch, tea or dinner for your family and/or friends. On a page dedicated to coping with Mother’s Day and infertility, contributor Kitty says, “My enjoyment of entertaining and the time and effort it took to plan and execute the party made it impossible for me to feel sad that day. Plus, the gratitude and praise I received from my family members for doing something nice for them made me feel really good about myself.  (And of course, it got me off the hook for participating in any other Mother’s Day activities that I might not have made it through without waterworks!)” Maybe being the “hostess with the mostest” will keep you a part of things without having to be the center of any unwanted, sympathetic attention.
  3. Do something FUN. Yeah, yeah – mothers are awesome and all that, but they don’t necessarily need to have a big, mushy event in their honor every year. In fact, depending on the mother, you may not be the only one who dreads obligatory Mother’s Day events. Get the women in your family on board to do something totally un-mushy and fun, whether it be ditching the men and heading out for manis and pedis or a day at the spa, spectating at a local Roller Derby event (or road tripping to one further away) or embarking on a “girl’s only” bungee jumping adventure. The world is your oyster and odds are it will be everyone’s favorite Mother’s Day yet.
  4. Finally make an effort to schedule that fertility counseling appointment. Women and couples diagnosed with infertility can have an uphill journey ahead. Sometimes that journey is only few months long, sometimes the journey takes years before you finally come to some kind of solution or resolution. Either way, it’s easy to keep things contained within yourself and/or for you and your partner to hole-up as an impenetrable unit. This can result in a breakdown of communication, strained relationships with others, a loss of intimacy with your partner – or the inability to handle annual holidays and events that will happen year after year, whether you like them or not. Fertility counseling is a wonderful tool for learning about yourself and to heal and grow as you move forward on your journey.
  5. Give yourself an hour or so to be inspired. There are so many roads to becoming a mother – and, as you’re learning – some are much curvier and rockier than others. However, there is ALWAYS hope and you are definitely not alone. We have put together a host of videos, made by parents who want to share what they learned, and what they want you to know, as you go through fertility treatments. Nobody knows what it’s like to be in your shoes more than they do, and these mothers are speaking right to you!

How do you cope with holidays like Mother’s Day in the wake of your fertility diagnosis? Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the RRC comment box below.

Image courtesy of 89studio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Endometriosis affects more than five million women in the United States. It’s a rather mysterious condition in which endometrial cells that typically comprise the lining of the uterus wind up taking residence in other parts of the reproductive tract and the body. What makes it more mysterious is that while some mild cases cause severe [...]

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