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One of the most important steps towards reducing fertility-harming toxins in your life and preparing for a healthy pregnancy is to filter your water at home. It was also one of my most difficult steps towards cleansing toxins from my life for two reasons. The first was, unfortunately, there is no perfect water filter. That means that I spent, well, years, actually, trying to find the PERFECT water filter and failing. I love shopping, and I am good at finding the perfect option. I am not good at shopping when there is no perfect option! The second reason it was difficult was that as I narrowed in on the best available options, the price point became very high. In the end, the risks associated with not filtering our water were too great, and we invested in an awesome under-the-sink water filter that was the best we could afford. We LOVE it. The water tastes so much better, and we rest easier every time we drink water, wash our vegetables, or make soup, knowing our water is as safe as we can make it.
In this post I’m going to walk you through WHY you need a water filter, and then the pros and cons of each option. Then I’m going to tell you about my top 3 options and why we went with the one we did.
Why you need to filter your water (the bad news)
According to the Environmental Working Group (my favorite organization for identifying toxins and toxin free products) tap water contains over 300 chemicals and pollutants that can harm you and your family. If you go to their website you can look up how your city’s water rates and what contaminants it has the highest amounts of.
The gross stuff
Honestly there are too many types of toxins that are probably in your drinking water to discuss fully, so let’s focus in on the ones that are the most harmful to fertility. The other toxins are linked to other health issues, like cancer or heart disease.
Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) like pesticides and herbicides and other chemicals. These are related to harm to sperm health, delays in conceiving, and can harm embryos and cause spontaneous miscarriage. You want to reduce your exposure to these as much as possible. The studies on the harm to male fertility are wide-reaching and easy to google. Studies on the effect on female fertility are fewer, here are two literature reviews to look at if you are interested: World Health Organization study review, and the UCSF-CHE Summit review. The water filters I recommend are very effective at removing these.
Heavy metals like lead, cadmium and mercury can be found in some areas, and are linked with interference with healthy female reproductive cycles. There are a number of studies, but this one on women undergoing 619 women undergoing IVF is pretty clear- even at levels considered “safe” lead and cadmium in the bloodstream and follicles were linked with failed cycles.
Chloramine and other chemicals, while directly linked to cancers and heart concerns, can indirectly lead to fertility by increasing your lead exposure.
Perflourinated compounds (PFCs) are the chemicals found in such products as non-stick coatings on pots and pans (ditch those ASAP if you haven’t already). PFCs are linked to cancer, developmental defects in children, and birth defects. You can pass these to your fetus while pregnant, and to your baby through nursing. Additionally, high levels of PFC are linked to lower IVF success, irregular menstrual cycles, and thyroid issues.
Endocrine Disruptors. These include phthalates, triclosan, perchlorate, alkylphenol polyethoxylates, and steroid hormones. These come from plastics, fragrance in personal care products and cleaners, antibacterial soaps and personal care items, fertilizers, rocket fuel, road flares, industrial detergents, and livestock hormone treatments. They are linked to decreased fertility in men and women, miscarriage, and pregnancy complications.
Flouride– Don’t tell my mom, but I filter the flouride out of my drinking water. I still brush with flouride toothpaste, but I absolutely do not want to be drinking flouride as it is linked to multiple health problems, including thyroid issues when consumed internally. Further, high flouride concentration in drinking water is linked to lower fertility, male rats treated with flouride saw their sperm quality go way down (can’t do those experiments on human males). Yes, flouride is added on purpose to keep everyone’s teeth clean. But, think of it this way- from a public health perspective it makes sense. If you have a country filled with people who consume massive amounts of sugary drinks, don’t floss, and rarely see a dentist, then you want to flood them with flouride despite other health risks. But YOU aren’t consuming sugar, you floss every night (don’t you?!), and you get a cleaning every six months. It’s time to ditch the flouride.
Here’s the good news- the water filters I recommend are very, very good at filtering out most of these. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to filter endocrine disruptors, so there is no currently available option that promises to fully (or almost fully) remove them. Two of my suggested filters say they reduce these substantially.
Options that I do not recommend:
Bottled Water: Bottle water comes in plastic bottles which will leach phthalates. No, no, no. Also, many times the water is sourced from tap water and have the same contaminants. Also- pricey.
Brita Filter or other Pitcher Filter- While these are cheap and easy to find at the store, they don’t remove or reduce heavy metals, volatile organic chemicals, flouride, or endocrine disruptors.
Reverse Osmosis: Although pricey, these are awesome at removing many toxins from your tap water. Here’s are the big problems- wastes like 5 gallons of water for each gallon produced (sometimes more), doesn’t reduce endocrine disruptors or volatile organic chemicals. Additionally, they remove the trace minerals that you want and you have to then go buy a mineral supplement to add it back in!
Options that I do recommend based on budget:
Budget ~ $200
Good– A gravity based solid-block carbon filter like the Berkey. These are huge stainless contraptions that sit on your counter and that you have to fill up manually. They are reasonably priced, and you can take them camping with you as they don’t require electricity. They filter out basically everything you might worry about EXCEPT the endocrine disruptors. At around $220, depending on size, this is an affordable option if it appeals to you. Remember that you will need to buy replacement filters, and they are upwards of $100. The Berkey comes in different sizes based on your expected water consumption. I love that this filter is all stainless steel and you don’t have to worry about your water going through plastic (like in my next two). In the end, we didn’t go with this because 1- my husband can’t handle clutter on the counter, 2- I was really worried about those endocrine disruptors and 3- If it sits on the counter instead of being a faucet on the sink, how would we wash our fruits and vegetables with it? Still I think this is a solid choice, especially if your budget is limited.
Budget ~ $400
Better- A multi-stage under the counter filter that removes pretty much everything on the list, AND reduces endocrine disruptors. We bought the ULTRA-UC Undercounter Filter from PureEffect and we LOVE it. Our water tastes fabulous and I know we are filtering out almost everything bad from the water. I’m lucky that my husband is handy- he installed it himself! It was super easy, and maybe I’ll get him to write-up a how-to post someday! There are tons of online videos and resources showing you how to do it, like this on. If you are too nervous to install yourself then you will need to hire a plumber. This was the best filter I could find for under $1500 that reduced the endocrine disruptors AND filtered out flouride in addition to everything else. It cost $425 and I don’t regret a penny. I only regret that we took so long to buy it! There are some cons- parts of it are made of plastic (though BPA, phthalate and PVC free), and you do have to replace the cartridges for $123.95 about every year. See below for more of my love song to this filter!
Budget ~ over $1000
Best– Well folks, this is the diamond-encrusted crown of water filters. If money is no issue, then send your cash to Radiant Life and buy their incredible 14-Stage Biocompatible Water Purification System. Seriously, this thing is insane. It filters out EVERYTHING, and it even claims to completely remove endocrine disruptors. I know! Incredibel! I also love that some of its 14 stages have names like “Restructuring- Homeopathic Memory, Molecule Coherence,” and “Reprogramming- Adding Natural Earth Properties.” Unfortunately, at $1,595 it was beyond what my husband and I were willing and able to invest. Plus, the replacement cartridges cost $195, and the list and cost of replacement parts made my head spin. An additional con is that it is also plastic, and water sits in a big plastic tub. Like the Pure Effects, if you don’t feel comfortable installing yourself then you will need to hire a plumber to install.So, while I am ranking this as the best option, we could not afford it. However, if money is no issue to you, then do it!
If you chose to find another filter, make sure that it filters to 0.1 microns to 0.5 microns. Don’t worry too much about the certifications and stuff, the more I looked into those, the more it seemed like the companies and the certifiers were all in bed with each other paying each other off.
I know that purchasing a water filter like this is a major investment. It is one of the reasons it took us so long to commit. I implore you- don’t wait like we did! You need this, your partner needs this, and your future children need this. It is time to make the investment. And- it sure is a whole lot cheaper than an IVF cycle!
Why we really, really, love the Pure Effects Water Filter
- It filters things that no other filter under $1000 does. Like, NO OTHER filter. These include: radioisotopes, drug residues, and endocrine disruptors. It also filters out flouride which is also very difficult to find in this price range unless you do reverse osmosis or the Berkey.
- No electricity required- it works only on water pressure. This is great because if the power goes out, you still have your filter!
- All materials are completely BPA-free, phthalate-free, PVC-free, and lead-free.
- The company is a small US-based family company.
Do it now for your health and fertility!