Common Everyday Exposures That Can Impact Fertility and Pregnancy

What products that we use and foods that we eat might be harming our fertility or might impact a pregnancy? What should women who are trying to get pregnant or who are pregnant avoid and what should they do? Host Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, the national infertility education and support nonprofit, interviews Dr. Tracey Woodruff, a Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California San Francisco and the Director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment.

Hit the Highlights
  • We’ve known for a long time that some occupational exposure to chemicals, radiation, and such can affect fertility, but what many people don’t realize is that we can and are exposed to strong potentially fertility altering chemicals in our everyday life.

  • How do the foods we eat impact female and male fertility and pregnancy?

  • Should we avoid using plastic food storage containers? 

  • How much pesticides, herbicides, and rodenticides are found in our foods?

  • How do these chemical (pesticides, herbicides, and rodenticides) impact fertility or the health of a fetus or long term health of the baby?

  • Arsenic in rice. Does brown rice have more potential to be contaminated with arsenic? 

  • Does washing our fruits and vegetables help reduce the negative health impact from chemical?

  • The Environmental Working Group issues a list of the “Dirty Dozen” produce to buy organic and the “Clean 15” where you don’t need to buy organic.

  • Ortho-phthalates (phthalates) are a class of chemicals commonly found in many types of food — from fast food to fresh fruits and vegetables. The chemicals get into food mainly through packaging and food handling equipment, like cellophane, paper and paperboard, and plastic in contact with food.

  • Do phthalates impact fertility in women and men? Do phthalates hurt developing fetuses?

  • BPA-in bottles and in canned foods. How does BPA affect fertility?

  • What are common endocrine disrupting chemicals that we are often exposed to?

  • Fast foods processed foods increase exposure to phthalates.

  • Is Teflon safe?

  • Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), are stain, water, and grease repellent chemicals found in a wide range of consumer products.

  • Does exposure to PFOS and PFAS impair fertility or pregnancy?

  • Do environmental toxins build up in our bodies?

  • What beauty products should women avoid?

  • What chemicals should women look for in their personal hygiene products and cosmetics?

  • How to know what cosmetics to buy: Think Dirty app and Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

  • What cleaning products should women trying to get pregnant use and avoid?

  • QACs- used in cleaning products.

  • Cleaning with vinegar and baking soda.

  • Is dry cleaning dangerous for women who are trying to get pregnant?

  • Top tips for common environmental chemical exposures for women and men who are trying to get pregnant. 

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Music credit: Michael Ashworth

Image credit: EKM-Mittelsachsen