The everyday items you didn't realise could be affecting your fertility - Kiindred

The everyday items you didn’t realise could be affecting your fertility

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When you’re trying to have a baby there are so many things you start doing, and a few that you usually stop too. However, there are also some very common everyday items that you probably didn’t realise could also be hindering your chances of falling pregnant.

Kiindred’s healthy home expert, Joanne Lia from NoToxRox shares a number of everyday items many of us use without realising they often contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), PFAs, phthalates that can affect both male and female fertility.

1. Lube

Did you ever consider that the lubricant you’re using could be sabotaging your chances of falling pregnant?

Couples who are trying to conceive are well aware that timing is everything. There is a very narrow fertile window. Combine this with the everyday stresses of life, and sex can sometimes seem more mechanical than fun. Vaginal dryness is a common complaint among women trying to conceive especially if they’re taking fertility drugs. Lubrication is often needed to make the experience more pleasurable but not all lubricants are created equal.

Studies show many lubes on the market today have a negative effect on sperm motility – the ability of the sperm to swim in the right direction. Some lubes increase DNA damage to the sperm. Other studies have shown certain lubes affect sperm vitality – killing most of the sperm. That’s not all, even natural products such as olive or coconut oil can impact a man’s swimmers. Most surprising of all, one study actually showed saliva as the greatest inhibitor to sperm motility.

So, what does this mean? Most of the studies are done on animals or in a Petri dish so in a real-life situation using any Lube is probably not a huge factor in whether you’ll conceive or not but for couples facing challenges such as low sperm count or poor sperm quality then choosing a fertility-friendly lube is important.

Here is a list of what you don’t want in a lubricant:

• Petroleum Jelly – no Vaseline
• Silicone
• Glycerine
• Parabens
• Propylene Glycol
• No Spermicides-nonoxynol 9-N9
• Antibacterials
• Benzocaine

The safest, nontoxic lubricants should also have a neutral PH, around 7.

2. Feminine Hygiene Products

The vagina is like a self-cleaning oven, it requires very little maintenance. Despite that, many women use douches, wipes, sprays or powders in their cleaning regime believing this helps their personal hygiene. Using these products actually puts you at risk of bacterial and yeast infections. The other problem with these products is they contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs interfere with our hormone signalling pathways. The vagina and vulva rapidly absorbed chemicals without metabolising them. This is not an area you want to be exposed to EDCs.

Tampons and pads

Ordinary tampons are made from a blend of synthetic nylon and cotton. They are dyed with chlorine to make them white and often have fragrance added. Fragrance contains hormone-disrupting phthalates and chlorine can produce dioxin which is a carcinogen. Cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, so your tampons and pads will expose you to high levels of pesticides and GMOs. Pesticides are also hormone disruptors. So, it is best to avoid non-organic tampons altogether but especially when TTC.

Organic cotton pads and tampons are a much better option if you want to reduce your chemical exposure. There are many brands to choose from. Menstrual cups are a popular alternative too.

Period underwear

Period Undies are the new kid on the block and are loved by many, but the jury is out on these at the moment. The bad news is some brands of undies were tested and found to have high levels of PFAS and other chemicals. PFAS are often called ‘forever chemicals’ because they enter the environment and never leave. They also enter our bodies and stay for decades. These chemicals cause reproductive problems, birth defects and a rap sheet of other problems. Now, not all brands of period undies were tested and not all of the brands tested contained PFAS but there were other chemicals found that haven’t been widely studied so period undies are best avoided for now, especially if your TTC.

3. Sex Toys

I don’t want to be unpopular, but your dildo might not be very fertility-friendly. It really depends on what it’s made from, which unfortunately in most cases, is really hard to know for sure. The market is flooded with cheap, single-use sex toys that can be not only dangerous but toxic.

If your vibrator or dildo is made from PVC or soft jelly rubber, then it’s best to put it aside. These soft plastics contain phthalates which as stated earlier are hormone disruptors. They affect reproduction and they affect the normal development of baby boys in utero. Reducing exposure to phthalates when trying to conceive and during gestation is one of the most important things a woman can do to maximise her fertility and ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Avoid cheap, novelty sex toys and opt for good quality silicone, hard metal, glass or wood. Avoid any porous material which is difficult to clean leaving you susceptible to STDs, bacterial or fungal infections.

Related Articles
Xenoestrogens and EDCs: What are they and how to avoid them?

10 things you should do before falling pregnant
Know your plastics

References:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9886513/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17509584/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24462060/ https://www.womensvoices.org/whats-in-period-products-timeline-of-chemical-testing/ https://www2.mst.dk/udgiv/publications/2006/87-7052-227-8/html/helepubl_eng.htm

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