Many women struggle to conceive and end up directing the blame at themselves, but your common household products could be to blame for your infertility. Your home is supposed to be a sanctuary, not a place that should add more of a threat to your reproductive health. Here is what you should look out for.
Getting ready to paint or refinish furniture? Look out for a solvent called glycol ether, which may disrupt your period or cause you to miscarry. In men, it can lower sperm quality. Glycol ether is an ingredient in water-based paints, thinners, varnishes and stains.
Carpet padding, soft cushions and mattresses come flame-retardant to the sales floor, which makes you think of safety, but not if you’re trying to have a baby. Humans can absorb those flame-retardant chemicals into their bloodstreams, where it can damage sperm and make it difficult for women to conceive.
Fortunately, the most common flame-retardant compounds got banned in 2004, but if you bought yours earlier, you’re way overdue for a new mattress, anyway. When shopping for new mattresses, invest in organic cotton, latex and wool, and avoid labels that say, “Complies with California TB117,” code for flame-retardant.
Though it keeps away the germs, unfortunately, antibacterial soaps can also kill the odds of conception. Beware certain dishwashing liquids, toothpastes and shampoos that contain the guilty chemical triclosan, which messes with your hormones and your reproductive system. For men, triclosan lowers sperm count.
When shopping, always check the ingredients list on personal and household products like bath soap, dish soap, toothpaste and shampoo. Opt for natural ingredients.
The damaging chemical biphenol A (BPA) is usually in hard plastics, such as microwave-safe food containers and aluminum can linings. Sometimes, that includes receipt paper — surprisingly. Studies analyzing men’s urine found higher degrees of BPA linked with lowered sperm count. Researchers also discovered women with two times as much BPA in their bloodstream carried half as many fertile eggs, and found links to polycystic ovary syndrome, as well.
Look for BPA-free labels, and stay away from recycling symbols No. 3 and No. 7, usually found at the bottom of the package. Wash your hands after touching money and receipts. Turn to glass containers to store leftovers.
Prefer the flexibility of those microwave-safe plastics? Choose liquid silicone rubber (LSR) products for use around the kitchen and other areas of the home in place of common BPA plastics. LSR products are safer, hypoallergenic and resist the growth of bad bacteria.
Love your shower curtain’s flexibility? It keeps your floor from getting all wet, but your shower curtain liner’s bendable powers come from phthalates, which lower sperm count and may influence the onset of endometriosis in women.
Unfortunately, phthalates exist in many plastics, such as building materials, vinyl tiles, caulk, nail polishes and vinyl shower curtains. Replace vinyl tiles and other at-risk materials.
Nonstick Pots and Pans
If you want to conceive, skip the convenience of nonstick pans due to the coating containing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which may cause reproductive problems. Women with increased PFOA levels experienced trouble conceiving in one study, and their child may also have issues with meeting developmental milestones if they manage to conceive and deliver.
Avoid Teflon pans and PFOA-containing products. Try cast iron instead.
Men who let their laptops rest on their laps while working possess higher scrotal temperatures, which negatively affects their reproductive health and may decrease sperm count. Part of the issue comes from men keeping their legs together and trapping the heat, but stopping that won’t solve the issue. Even an hour of laptop time on the scrotum still causes issues.
Follow-up studies showed no harm to women who rested their laptops on their laps, but the issue persisted for males. Men should rest their laptops on a table or desk instead.
Chemicals that leach into the water supply may contribute to male infertility. Trace amounts of pesticides and chemicals in medicines entering the water supply could inhibit testosterone functioning and therefore reduce fertility in men. Keep out more chemicals by using a water filter.
Do you take your shoes off at the door? Besides trailing in dirt, you may track in pesticides, and the perfluorochemicals in some carpet padding reduce fertility in women. Females with higher levels of these chemicals in their bloodstream took longer to conceive, and these chemicals may also affect the quality of sperm in men.
Replacing your carpet when trying to conceive? Bad idea. Start taking your shoes off at the door, too. It’s convenient and healthy for everyone.
Avoid phthalates, parabens, formaldehyde and other detergents containing harsh or petroleum-based chemicals, as these may cause miscarriage and disrupt the menstrual cycle. In men, these chemicals may affect semen quality. Choose fragrance-free and vegetable-based detergents, and select preservative-free and natural alternatives.
Avoid these common infertility culprits around your home and seek out more natural alternatives. It’s as easy as switching to glass containers and leaving your shoes at the door. Besides, when you lead a more minimalist and natural lifestyle, you have time to focus on more important things — like starting a family.