For many couples, embarking on the journey of trying to conceive can be overwhelming, to say the least. From the moment, you start “trying” you’re suddenly hyper aware of tons of “dos and don’ts” whether it be from a doctor—or from unsolicited advice. What do you have to avoid when you get pregnant? What about before you get pregnant? Can I eat that? Is there anything in your daily routine you need to change? The list goes on.
For some guidance, we asked Dr. Daniel Shapiro, M.D reproductive endocrinologist at Prelude Fertility, for his recommendations regarding exposures to look out for in regard to fertility.
Simple routines such as cleaning and maintaining your household are often filled with tons of chemical-laden products like cleansers, whiteners, de-greasers, and more. Yet surprisingly many have not proven to be harmful to fertility.
In fact, Dr. Shapiro explains, “There are only a handful of common household cleaning products that have really proven to have bad side effects, most of which are cleaning solvents. Many cleaning products contain benzene and xylene, which can be absorbed into your skin. I recommend that if you must use these types of products to wear a mask and non-latex, neoprene gloves."
You may have heard by now that some plastics contain harmful chemicals, specifically bisphenol A (BPA.) Plastics seem to be everywhere—in water bottles, food containers, beauty products and cosmetic bottles, and beyond. It’s important to keep an eye out for BPA, and to steer clear from it, explains Dr. Shapiro. "The one thing I do want to bring to the forefront, which people typically overlook are plastic storage containers for food. BPAs are toxic to full grown humans and embryos alike.”
He recommends storing food in glass or metal containers instead of BPA containing plastics that can build up a presence in your body. He also warns, “Definitely do not microwave anything in plastic! Also keep an eye out for water bottles, not every water bottle is BPA-free!"
Beauty & Wellness Products
An awareness of the ingredients in everything you consume and use is key to remaining healthy and informed. This includes things you may not have thought of before, even feminine hygiene products. Luckily, Dr. Shapiro explains that most products such as pads and tampons are, “for the most part are safe as they are not getting absorbed into your body."
What about oils and lotions? Dr. Shapiro advises, "Most scented or massage oils are deemed safe because they aren't made out of toxic organics."
Many women may not think twice about their favorite skincare items and cosmetics, yet they’re items you use every day. While it’s important to carefully research the ingredients in your preferred products, luckily, "most cosmetic creams are safe because you aren't absorbing chemicals in great enough quantity, “said Dr. Shapiro.
During pregnancy and along the journey of trying to conceive, many women are advised to steer clear of anti-aging skincare treatments containing Vitamin A or retinoids due to potentially dangerous effects. However, Dr. Shapiro states, “Even creams with Vitamin A have not shown evidence that they increase birth defects, the only thing to watch out for are high concentrations of retinol acid, like those found in Acutane."
When examining your surroundings and exposures, it’s important to be aware and careful during such important times. If you have any specific questions regarding exposures, products, or chemicals, be sure to ask your physician for advice that is specific to you and your medical needs.