If you think scheduling intercourse around your fertile days is enough to know how to easily get pregnant, think again. The products you use everyday contain chemicals and other substances that can aggravate fertility problems. The best way to increase your chances of conceiving is to know which products can harm your health and fertility and how to avoid using them.
Minimize the Use of Cosmetics
The average woman uses 12 different kinds of personal care products every day, but every single one of these contain a cocktail of chemicals and toxins that cause health problems like infertility. The cosmetics industry produces so many products each year that the FDA cannot possibly test every single chemical that goes into each new lotion, shampoo, body wash, or lipstick formula.
What women need to watch out for is a group of chemicals called parabens, a preservative found in everything from shampoo to moisturizer (you can easily spot them among the ingredients; they are chemical compounds with the prefix propyl, methyl, butyl, and ethyl). Parabens belong to a group of chemicals called xenoestrogens, or false estrogens. Even though they are man-made estrogens, they behave like real estrogen when they enter the body and upset the delicate hormonal balance needed for conception. High amounts of estrogen, whether real estrogen or xenoestrogen, can also trigger conditions that disrupt fertility, such as ovarian cysts and endometriosis.
Men also need to be careful about the personal care products they use. A number of shampoos and deodorants contain a chemical called phthalates, which can cause testicular tumors, low sperm count, and hormonal imbalance.
It would be impractical to suggest avoiding cosmetics completely, but reducing the number of personal care products you use can go a long way to boost your fertility. You can also limit your purchases to cosmetics with organic or natural ingredients. Just make sure you look beyond the “all-natural” label and inspect the ingredients list before you buy anything. Many of these so-called natural cosmetics actually contain chemicals like nano-particules, phenoxyethanol, and triclosan, which are all known to disrupt hormone production.
Stay Away From Lubricants
Lubricants might make things sexy in the sack, but did you know that even water-based lubes have spermicidal effects? Sperm can only survival in alkaline environments with a pH level of 7.0 or 8.5. Oil-based and water-based lubricants are acidic, with pH values of 3 or 4. Not only do these products create a hostile environment for sperm, but the osmotically active particles in lubricants also affect sperm motility. Saliva and water aren’t any more sperm-friendly than lubricants either. The digestive enzymes in saliva can kill sperm, whereas the sperm cell absorbs water too easily, causing it to burst.
If you really must use a lubricant, there is one sperm-friendly product you can use. Pre-Seed is the only lubricant with the right pH levels required for sperm to survive. Its maker, Dr. Joanna Ellington from Washington State University, essentially replicates the alkaline environment provided by semen so that sperm can easily swim through it. Pre-Seed doesn’t guarantee pregnancy of course, but at least you won’t need to worry about the damage it might do to your partner’s sperm.
Stop Using Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen
Instead of using over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for your headaches or cramps, try to find natural remedies instead. Studies show that NSAIDs acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) can cause temporary infertility in women. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen signal the pituitary gland to produce high amounts of the luteinizng hormone (LH), the hormone that triggers ovulation. However, too much LH can cause the ovarian follicles to swell and turn into cysts instead of releasing a mature egg. When this happens, a woman may go through a menstrual cycle without ovulating.
The good news is that only a small margin of the female population is negatively affected by NSAIDs. The damage isn’t permanent either; studies show that levels of LH normalize as soon as the woman stops taking these drugs. Still, it might be a good idea to stay away from over-the-counter painkillers and to reduce inflammation naturally. Eat lots of green leafy vegetables, fruits, and take an anti-inflammatory omega-3 capsule every day.
Do Not Use Plastic Containers to Store or Heat Food
We hardly give a second thought to how plastic can affect our health, but researchers from Yale University’s School of Medicine show that chemical ingredients in plastic can cause infertility in women. These chemicals are Bisphenol A and phthalates. Both of them are considered endocrine disruptors, chemical substances that cause infertility by altering the amounts of sex hormones in the body. Bisphenol A, in particular, has been found to prevent fertilized eggs from implanting themselves onto the uterus. Women who experience frequent miscarriages also have higher levels of BPA in their blood than women who carry their pregnancy to term.
How does this happen? When we microwave food inside a plastic container, the heat triggers the release of these chemicals and makes them leech onto the food. Fatty foods also tend to draw them out.
Although it might seem eco-friendly to recycle your plastic food containers, your fertility will fare better if you reduce the amount of plastics you use or stop using them altogether. Use porcelain or glass dishes to heat or store food, cut down on the cling-wrap, and avoid plastic containers and bottles with the recycling number 7. This type of plastic contains the highest amounts of Bisphenol A.