Xenoestrogens and how they affect fertility

Xenoestrogens and how they affect fertility

XENOESTROGENS ! You may have heard this very long word before, but today we’re breaking down what they are, how they affect fertility, and what we can do to detoxify them.

What are xenoestrogens?

Xenoestrogens are molecules found in NATURAL forms in our food (including phytoestrogens – which can be beneficial to our health), and SYNTHETIC forms found in many places within our modern environment, which can be harmful to health (also classed as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC’s)) (Paterni et al., 2017).

Some examples of where synthetic xenoestrogens are found:

1. Our fruit and veggies ! Where pesticides and herbicides have been sprayed.

2. Plastic, plastic, plastic ! Our water bottles, food containers (especially when heating in plastic) and food packaging are some of the main areas of concern.

3. Makeup. Although it can make us feel good, it doesn’t always return the favour. This extends to our skincare products, sunscreen, nail polish, shampoo and conditioners.

4. Condoms – yes. Beware.

5. Laundry liquids and fabric softeners which are subsequently in contact with our skin.

How do they affect fertility ?

Xenoestrogens affect fertility through a variety of mechanisms leading to disrupted follicle growth and egg quality, oestrogen and progesterone imbalances, inhibiting uptake of thyroid hormones as well as altering testosterone and reducing sperm count (Hutz et al., 2014).


What can I do to reduce my exposure and improve hormonal and fertility outcomes?

Well. Here’s the good news. There are a variety of techniques we can utilise to reduce the impact xenoestrogens have on fertility.

We need to support detoxification pathways including the liver, bowels and skin.

1. The liver. The liver is responsible for filtering our blood, hormones, toxins and so much more. Therefore, is integral in xenoestrogen detoxification. Plus, xenoestrogens can interrupt liver functioning and deplete antioxidants which are vital for a healthy liver (Lama et al., 2019). We can support the liver through a variety of different foods including;

  • B group vitamins. Found in grass-fed meat, eggs, dark leafy green vegetables and nutritional yeast.
  • Antioxidants. Found in berries, broccoli, red cabbage, pomegranates, beetroots.
  • Zinc – found in oysters, nuts and seeds and grass-fed meat.
  • Selenium found in brazil nuts.
  • Magnesium found in pumpkin and chia seeds.
  • Cruciferous vegetables. This is a big one. Including broccoli, cabbage, kale and
  • Brussel sprouts.
  • Curcuminoids – a compound found in fresh turmeric.

2. The bowels. Ensuring we’re passing a bowel motion regularly is key. Increasing fibre through fruits and vegetables as well as ensuring water intake is optimal is crucial. Aim for 2-3 Litres of filtered water per day.

3. The skin. Regular sweating through exercise and saunas is a perfect way to encourage detoxification through our largest organ (the skin).

But overall, nothing will beat minimising our exposure to EDC’s! Keep an eye out for what you have in your home, and next time you’re at the shops, look for alternatives. For example, glass or ceramic packaging, buying bulk foods with cotton produce bags, buying organic, spray-free produce where possible (or potentially growing your own!) and opting for natural skincare, cleaning products and cosmetics.

Optimal fertility extends beyond food – our environment matters!


Hutz, R. J., Carvan, M. J., 3rd, Larson, J. K., Liu, Q., Stelzer, R. V., King-Heiden, T. C., Baldridge, M. G., Shahnoor, N., & Julien, K. (2014). Familiar and novel reproductive endocrine disruptors: xenoestrogens, dioxins and nanoparticles. Current trends in endocrinology, 7, 111–122.

Lama, S., Vanacore, D., Diano, N., Nicolucci, C., Errico, S., Dallio, M., Federico, A., Loguercio, C., & Stiuso, P. (2019). Ameliorative effect of Silybin on bisphenol A induced oxidative stress, cell proliferation and steroid hormones oxidation in HepG2 cell cultures. Scientific reports, 9(1), 3228. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-40105-8

Paterni, I., Granchi, C., & Minutolo, F. (2017). Risks and benefits related to alimentary exposure to xenoestrogens. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 57(16), 3384–3404. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2015.1126547