Most of us spend so much time trying not to get pregnant that we expect it to happen immediately when we’re ready got start a family. But for about 12% of American women, pregnancy doesn’t happen so easily. And the infertility problem is on the rise: Nearly 40% more women report difficulty getting pregnant than 30 years ago.
Why? No one really knows. In 2011, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, attributed many cases of infertility to disease, lifestyle and congenital factors, but could identify no specific cause for infertility in 20% of couples. In the past, I’ve written about studies showing links between female infertility and non-stick chemicals. But a new study is the first to link male infertility to low levels of chemicals commonly found in food, household and personal care products.
The study, published last month in EMBO Reports by two European researchers, is the first to link male infertility to low levels of toxic chemicals that are ubiquitous in America. They showed that these chemicals can impair the sperm’s ability to swim and release important enzymes at the right time for conception.
The study tested nearly 100 difference chemicals. Like mostendocrine disruptors, which mess up your hormones, low levels of these chemicals are currently considered “non-toxic.” But if you’re trying to get pregnant, you might want to have your man stay away from these five:
PARABENS are preservatives found in conventional personal care products from moisturizer to sunscreen; look for them prefaced by “methyl,” “ethyl,” “propyl,” “butyl” and “isobutyl.”
OXYBENZONE and OCTINOXATE found in chemical sunscreens (zinc-based sunscreens are a much better bet).
Food heavily treated with with CHLORINATED HYDROCARBON INSECTICIDES—the same class as DDT. Avoid these by eating USDA Certified Organic.
TRICLOSAN in antibacterial soaps, gels, wipes and sprays; studies show washing your hands with soap and water works just as well.
BPA in food-can linings, cash register receipts and hard plastics.
If you’re experiencing challenges getting pregnant, please know that my heart goes out to you. My eyes were really opened by the vlog that I did last year with the amazing actress Elisabeth Rohm—she was the mayor’s wife in “American Hustle”—about infertility and IVF. Elisabeth describes getting pregnant naturally as being “handed motherhood on a silver platter,” which I now how I think about my three pregnancies.
But finally, when you do become pregnant—and trust me, there is so much now that doctors can do to help—take a look at the 12 things you can do to protect your baby for life. They’re easy, natural and can really make a difference.
So tell me, what was your experience with pregnancy? Did you and/or your partner make any lifestyle change that helped? I’d love to hear, in comments below. Thanks!
If you would like to read more by Mommy Greenest, check out her blog.