Cell phones, detergent, and bug spray — oh my!
That would’ve been Dorothy’s horrified refrain in Oz if she had feared infertility instead of the Wicked Witch of the West (and all of forest animals). Instead, it appears to be the fear-based mantra of women in the US who plan to—at some point—become mothers.
If you have plans to conceive any time soon (or any time in the future for that matter), it’s probably a good idea (and common knowledge) to put down the pack of cigarettes and cut back on alcohol consumption. While it’s widely known that smoking and drinking negatively impact a woman’s fertility—and therefore, her chances of conceiving—there are myriad other factors that have dastardly consequences for women trying to get pregnant. Keep reading below to see 12 shocking things that sabotage your fertility.
Amy Poehler wasn’t technically wrong when she declared in her book “Yes, Please!” that our phones are trying to kill us. Maybe they’re not set on strangling us in our sleep, but these tiny little sources of artificial light exposure are certainly hell-bent on negatively affecting women’s fertility (and fetal development). We’ve all heard that blue lights emitted by phones and tablets at night influence our bodies’ production of melatonin, therefore inhibiting sleep cycles; but did you know that melatonin is produced in the reproductive tract and protects eggs from damage? Especially during ovulation, artificial light exposure can be particularly detrimental.
“Keep calm and apply more eyeliner”? More like: “Keep calm and chuck it all.” Most scented cosmetics—including nail polishes, hair sprays, and perfumes—use synthetic chemicals called phthalates as a plasticizer. Phthalates such as dibutylphthalate (DBP), dimethylphthalate (DMP), and diethylphthalate (DEP) increase a product’s durability. Women with high levels of phthalates were “twice as likely to suffer from implantation failure after IVF,” according to a recent study. Phthalates also increase a man’s risk of infertility.
Ever wonder why some people in the office make such a big deal when you microwave your lunch in a plastic container? Most plastics also contain phthalates; not to mention, heating up plastic increases the emissions’ potency.
Could it be that you’re hurting your fertility every time you do the laundry? Yep. Some fabric softeners, laundry detergents, and dryer sheets contain xenohormones—substances not found in nature that negatively interfere with hormone production. We are exposed to xenohormones on the daily, their presence building up over time to cause a significant progesterone deficiency. In the place of fabric softener, try white vinegar; instead of commercial detergents, use white vinegar, baking soda, or trisodium phosphate.
When you nuke last night’s cold pizza in the microwave, you’re stripping the slice of whatever nutrients it started with. Vegetable and meat proteins that are microwaved are changed into carcinogenic compounds. Carcinogens = cancer. The human body is physically unable to break it down, causing hormone production to shut off. So not only do microwave emissions impede on your fertility, but they are also upping your cancer risk.
Better stock up on eggs, oatmeal, and Greek yogurt! Studies show that the timing and size of a meal can be crucial to reproductive health. In fact, women who consume half their daily calories during breakfast increase their chances of getting pregnant. Choose foods high in protein and carbs to reap all the benefits of an early-morning meal.
Severe gum bleeding and inflammation have been linked to a lower chance of getting pregnant. In short: Your dentist is your new best friend.
While lube can be great for increasing pleasure and making “sexy time” a little bit sexier, it may have a harmful affect on fertility, as many popular brands of lubricant are composed of spermicides. Spermicidal ingredients drastically decrease sperm’s mobility, therefore decreasing its likelihood of reaching an egg. Oils do not have these qualities, though using oils as lubricants may increase a woman’s susceptibility to infection.
Folic Acid Deficiency
Take a hint from Popeye and eat your spinach. Folic acid is key to both getting pregnant and maintaining a healthy pregnancy, as folate is a B-complex vitamin that aids in the formation of red blood cells. A deficiency can be easily cured by upping one’s intake of spinach, eggs, grains, and even sunflower seeds.
Mineral oil is a petrochemical-based emulsifier. It’s derived from crude oil, which is also used for motor oil, gasoline, and plastic. Some solvents and soaps are also made with this particular xenohormone-infested material. Other products that are composed of xenohormones include fake wood paneling, air fresheners, and polyester clothing.
Most insect repellents possess high levels of DEET, a yellow oil that historically got its start as a pesticide. Repellent ingredients that are generally better for pregnant women include citrus and citronella. Pregnant women are advised to use products that contain no more that a 30% DEET concentration.