Mercury, dental fillings and fertility
Did you know that mercury is ranked the fifth most toxic element in the world (after plutonium, polonium, caesium, and arsenic)?
It’s a known neurotoxin.
Especially since just about everyone (at least that I know) who has had a cavity filled gets the amalgam fillings (the darker gray or metallic looking fillings). They’re cheaper and insurance normally doesn’t pay for the nice, and less toxic, white enamel fillings. The problem is, the mercury can leach out of these fillings by eating and drinking, by chewing gum, and even by brushing our teeth.
photo credit – simplephoto via canva.com
The problem with mercury toxicity
Mercury can be found as a liquid, solid, or gas and can be absorbed through the skin. It can also build up within our food chain, particularly seafood since the evaporated mercury makes its way to our lakes and waterways.
The most noticeable effects of mercury poisoning are neurological (the term “mad hatter” came from the fact that hat makers used to use mercury in the production of hats) but researchers have found that the build up of mercury in our bodies can cause many health problems for both sexes. Complications with the immune system, memory retention, chronic health issues, problems with the hypothalamus pituitary axis, menstruation difficulties, reduced sperm count, ovulation disorders, miscarriage, and even premature birth.
And it’s not just the dental fillings that expose us to mercury.
Fish is another well-known source that women who are pregnant or attempting to conceive are told to limit consumption (more so than the general public) and to also be sure of the source and harvesting. While fish is an important part of a fertility diet, too much can cause the body to become overloaded with mercury to the point where it can’t detoxify it fast enough and it begins to build up.
Furthermore, some vaccinations also contain mercury in the form of thimerosal, though considerably less as concerns and research have become public knowledge and manufacturers have begun to replace it with other preservatives.
More mild exposure risks include:
- Non-digital fever thermometers (broken)
- CFL lightbulbs (broken)
- Novelty imported jewelry
- Mining (living and working near a mine)
- Long term coal and petroleum exposure
- Natural phenomenon such as volcano eruptions and forest fires
While the negative impacts of mercury toxicity are far from limited to fertility, the negative impact upon fertility will be the focus here.
For men, mercury seems to build up in the testes, the pituitary gland, and the thyroid and adrenal glands. All places that are absolutely vital in the reproductive system! It’s even been shown in animal studies to affect the sperm movement and viability. In a 2013 in vitro study in Greenland (of 529 from Greenland, Iceland and Poland) revealed increased sperm dysfunction, decreased motility, and viability. It was also demonstrated that men who were subfertile or infertile had higher mercury concentration levels than those who had healthy fertility function.
For women, the pituitary gland is also vital for producing sex and pregnancy hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. A study done on mice in 1983 found that mercury can also build up in the ovaries. Throughout the years it’s also been implicated in miscarriages of women who work with the substance (ex. hygenists).
Healing from mercury toxicity
If you have or suspect you may have mercury toxicity it’s important to work with a trusted health care practitioner who will take into account your unique situation and not just treat you like all mercury toxicity should be handled the same. Because you are the only one like you, there will be aspects of your healing path that will be unique to only you.
Believe it or not, your body has all the processes in place to handle toxicity. It’s true. But it will struggle under constant exposure, or even occasional exposure if your systems are already weakened or not functioning optimally to begin with. Obvious examples of such impairments include disease of a particular organ, such as kidney, blood, or bowels, however, it’s not always that extreme.
1) Open Channels of Elimination
It’s important to evaluate if your channels of detoxification are working properly.
Are you having a bowel movement 2-3 x/day at regular intervals? Do you sweat when you’re hot and when your body is moving? Are you hydrating and urinating well? Are you able to take deep and full breaths regularly throughout the day? Do you know that your kidneys, liver, and circulation are in good, healthy order? If you’re a woman, do you have regular and predictable periods with minimal discomfort and without the assistance of birth control or other medications?
If “no” is your answer to any of these, the related organs will need extra nourishment and support. This is a good time to seek out a practitioner to discover what your body needs to bring those systems into balance.
2) Reduce Exposure
If you have or are around any sources of mercury toxicity eliminate what you can as soon as you can.
When getting your amalgam fillings out be sure to inquire with your dentist about what measures they take to prevent you from being exposed to the mercury vapors and reduce the chance of you swallowing bits of mercury during the removal and replacement process. Amalgam dental fillings and fertility don’t mesh well. But if you’re in the same spot I am, getting them replaced isn’t an option. In this case, simply work to make sure those channels of elimination are open so the body can eliminate it instead of allowing it to build up.
Choose low mercury seafood like anchovies, crab, salmon, and tilapia.
(check out the full list of safe and unsafe fish at Natural Resource Defense Council)
If you suspect you have specific area of your body that is particularly affected by mercury please seek out a practitioner to ensure that your organs and body are safely returned to health.
3) Increase Specific Nutrition
Your body will need specific nutrition as it heals. If your elimination systems are compromised at all this is even more crucial.
Up your intake of whole foods that contain sulpher as well as cysteine. Vitamin C in high doses for short periods of time when preparing for detoxification or any dental removal is important. Consider foods like cilantro which help to pull it out of the body. Garlic, which is high-sulpher, is a simple addition to your food routine.
Determining if you have mercury toxicity
Traditionally speaking, a mercury challenge or urinalysis is performed. Those results, however, are not always consistent. The reason being is that they rely on methods of excretion that may not be working at the full capacity and may themselves be harboring excess mercury, as a result.
Hair analysis as well as blood analysis together have are a good way to determine your toxic load.
This article was written in combination with Asher Thayer.