Endometriosis, a complex and often distressing condition that affects 1 in 10 Dutch women of childbearing age, has a profound impact on daily life. In this blog we investigate whether exposure to hormone disrupting substances (also called hormone disruptors or endocrine disruptors ) can influence the development of endometriosis.
Hormone disruptors and endometriosis
The body produces hormones itself. These hormones regulate all important bodily functions. Your sleep, for example, but also your mood. This amazing natural system can become out of balance due to our modern lifestyle. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can disrupt the normal functioning of hormones in the human body. They can be harmful to health, especially during pregnancy and for babies and children, by causing a hormonal imbalance. Sometimes we consciously choose to use hormone disrupting substances. Just think of the contraceptive pill, which disrupts ovulation. In addition, we ingest hormone disrupting substances every day without wanting (and realizing) this.
Some of the major hormone disruptors that have been linked to endometriosis:
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
PCBs were once commonly used industrial chemicals and are still present in the environment. They can accumulate in fatty tissue and are associated with endometriosis .
Parabens are a group of preservatives that are often added to cosmetics, care products and some foods to extend their shelf life.
Parabens can occur in different forms. They are commonly found in shampoos, makeup and deodorants. Two parabens, methylparaben and ethylparaben, also occur in foods. These parabens are usually indicated on the label with the E numbers E214, E215, E218 or E219 (source: https://waarzitwatin.nl/stoffen/parabenen ).
Butylparaben has now been determined to actually be a hormone disrupting substance. Research has also shown that the frequent use of cosmetics is associated with exposure to parabens and therefore increases the risk of endometriosis.
Bisphenol A (BPA)
We come into contact with BPA every day. The substance is found in electronics, plastic bottles, (food) packaging material, implants, infusion equipment and toys. Several studies show a link between BPA and endometriosis.
Phthalates are used as plasticizers in plastics. We encounter them in everyday products such as soap, shampoo, ink, toys, plastic water bottles... you name it . We now know that phthalates can disrupt hormones. They can imitate or disrupt the action of hormones in the body, especially estrogen. The phthalate Bis(2-Ethylhexyl) (DEHP) is of particular concern because it is found in many plastic products, vinyl materials, furniture and toys, as well as in medical devices.
Within Europe , some phthalates have now been banned (to a greater or lesser extent) in the production of toys.
Several studies have been conducted on the link between phthalates and endometriosis. These studies show that certain phthalates were found at much higher levels in the group of women with endometriosis studied.
What can you do yourself?
- Leave the plastic drinking bottles behind from now on. Instead, opt for a safe stainless steel drinking bottle .
- In general, avoid the use of plastics. For example, choose glass containers to store your food.
- Do not use unnatural perfumes (using natural essential oils is a good substitute!).
- Wash new clothes before wearing them.
- Try to choose organic fruits and vegetables as often as your wallet allows.
- Replace your Teflon pans with safe PFAS-free pans .
- In general, avoid exposure to PFAS .
- Replace your toxic care products with less toxic options .
- Use natural cleaning supplies.
- Throw out all synthetic air fresheners.
- Avoid canned foods.
- Buy pacifiers that are BPA-free.
- Don't let your child play with plastic toys.
- Let your home air out every day.
- Do not use pesticides in your garden.
- Filter your drinking water with a good filter .
- Check your detergent and fabric softener for hormone disrupting substances.
- Choose clothing without harmful chemicals.
- Keep your glasses clean with perfume-free glasses wipes .
- Choose furniture made from natural materials as much as possible.
Get tested for hormone disrupting substances
Measuring is knowing! You can find various tests online to see what the (dis)balance of hormones is in your body. You can also test yourself for the presence of hormone disrupting substances such as BPA by having your urine or blood checked.
Disclaimer (Do Your Own Research): We are happy to share with you our experiences and knowledge that we have gained in our search for a toxic-free life. At the same time, we would like to emphasize that you are solely responsible for your health (that goes without saying, right?). The information we share here is for general educational purposes and is not personalized medical advice. Everyone is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another.