If you’re trying to get pregnant or thinking about trying soon, you might be thinking of doing a detox to prep yourself for pregnancy. But there are important things to know about detoxing and how the liver works, in order to ensure that you’re detoxing safely.
Many of the “cleanses” out there can actually make you more toxic if you’re not careful. Whaaa?? I know, I know, it stinks but it’s true. Here me out.
The world we live in is filled with environmental toxins and endocrine disruptors, and while we can try to lessen that load by 1) Avoiding plastic, especially around food and beverages 2) Buying organic when possible and 3) Being careful with our beauty and household cleaning products – let’s face it, it’s just impossible to avoid all the toxins. And they add up over time.
We of course don’t want to pass these toxins on to our baby. So detoxing before pregnancy can be a good idea.
These toxins can not only affect our baby during pregnancy, but they also affect our fertility by disrupting our hormones (making us estrogen dominant) and negatively affecting egg and sperm quality, making it take longer to get and stay pregnant.
Detoxing is a good idea for both men and women. Did you know that men’s sperm counts have declined by half in the last 40 years?? Crazy! It’s likely due to all the toxins, pesticides, and chemicals in our world. All the toxins that affect female fertility also affect male fertility. In fact, phthalates have been shown to affect sperm more than eggs.
Here’s the good news: Your body has built-in detoxification capabilities - your liver. And your liver is working every day in your favor. So you don’t necessarily need fancy or expensive cleansing “products”. You just need to support your liver in its ability to rid your body of toxins.
But not just any cleanse is beneficial, especially for fertility. You need to be gentle with your body.
When I was in graduate school I tried almost every “cleanse” under the sun – the master cleanse, juice cleanse, cabbage soup cleanses, fasts… and little did I know that most of these actually did more harm than good. I didn’t realize that until I learned more about the liver and how it functions. Forehead smack.
Here’s some physiology that I think is important to understand: There are three phases of liver detoxification.
The first phase is when the liver pulls the toxins out of the fat cells. Your body stores toxins in the fat cells. There they are safely tucked-away until the liver has a chance to process them. So when you stop adding toxins to your body during a cleanse or fast, your liver is like “hey, we have a chance to catch up!” and starts pulling toxins out of the fat cells in order to process them. That’s phase one.
In the second and third phases, the liver actually processes the toxins and eliminates them from the body.
So if your second and third phases aren’t keeping up with the first phase, then you’re actually more toxic during and after a cleanse!! You have toxins in your body that haven’t been processed and eliminated.
Have you ever done a cleanse and felt crappy during it? I have. If you experience side effects while cleansing like headaches or feeling “off” or foggy headed, it’s a sign that your body hasn’t fully eliminated the toxins that it’s processed.
Cleansing requires the liver and body to do a lot of work. It needs energy and nutrients to its job well. It needs B vitamins, and selenium, and glutathione, just to name a few. And do you know what the best source of nutrients is? Food!
Don’t fast during a cleanse, as this would cause your body to pull toxins out of the fat cells and start to process them (phase 1), but your body wouldn’t have the energy and nutrients it needs to finish the job and eliminate them from your body (phase 2 &3) – making you slightly more toxic rather than less – and leading to those gnarly detox symptoms.
So with that knowledge, I designed a 4 day Fertility Detox. It’s a gentle, safe, and effective detox plan to help rid your body of toxins, help balance your hormones and boost your egg quality, and help you feel great. And it doesn’t require a ton of expensive shakes or fancy things like that. You don’t need all that jazz. But you do need to know how to support your liver with food.
I recommend a minimum of 4 days for the cleanse, but you can absolutely do longer if you like.
This cleanse is also great for people who aren’t trying to conceive, because gentle and effective detoxification is great for all of us.
I suggest using it as a jumping off point to continue to eat clean and according to the Becoming Mama fertility diet.
We should aim to limit our toxic exposure and support our livers with the nutrients it needs every day. But sometimes, we need a little extra umph to get that started. That’s why I use my Fertility Detox frequently throughout the year, even when not trying to conceive. It helps to balance my hormones, boost my energy, helps me shed a few pounds (not because it’s limiting calories but because it’s reducing toxic inflammation), and feel great.
So again, detoxing before even starting to try to get pregnant is a good idea and can help you get pregnant faster and have a healthy pregnancy.
Signs that you especially need to cleanse are: if you have PMS, fatigue, hypothyroidism, fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS, allergies, have been on birth control, have acne, constipation, period cramps, breast tenderness or irritability before your period comes, and/or have been trying to conceive and it’s taking longer than you’d like.