7 Household Products to Avoid When You're Trying to Get Pregnant

When you're trying to conceive (TTC), it's important to reduce your exposure to unnecessary chemicals that affect your fertility. Take note of the potential risk associated with these everyday products.

Pregnant woman making a birth plan
Photo: Getty | Damircudic
01 of 07

House Paint

Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Exposure to oil-based paints, paint thinner, and painting supplies containing lead or mercury is a no-no when you're TTC. Latex paints with ethylene glycol ethers and biocides should also be avoided, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Exposure to these chemicals puts you at a higher risk of miscarrying and your baby at risk for physical and mental birth defects.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lead poisoning can pass from a person to their unborn baby and cause a miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, learning problems, behavioral issues and brain, kidney or nervous system damage. If you feel like sprucing up your house in preparation for a potential baby, leave it to your partner, hire it out, or have a friend help.

02 of 07

Canned Goods With BPA

canned food
Markus Mainka/Shutterstock

Some dangers linger in your kitchen. BPA, a chemical found in plastics which can leach into food, is a concern for fertility and the development of babies.

"Canned foods can be lined with BPA, so fresh fruits and veggies are best, but wash, wash, wash to avoid those pesticides," recommends Erika Nichelson, D.O., an OB-GYN with Hoffman and Associates, an all-female OB-GYN group affiliated with Mercy Hospital in Baltimore.

The good news? Many brands nowadays offer BPA-free cans for their products. Check the label or check out this list to see which brands are OK when you're TTC.

03 of 07

Perfumes Containing Phthalates

Levi Brown

It might be time to overhaul your signature scent. Synthetic fragrances used in beauty products, including perfume, contain chemicals that may disrupt hormone levels, affect fertility, and build up in breast milk when you do get pregnant, according to Alexandra Scanton, director of science and research at Women's Voices for the Earth, an organization dedicated to combating toxic chemicals in everyday products.

Exposure to phthalates, which can be found in everything from detergents and food packaging to hair spray and perfume, put pregnant people at risk of giving birth prematurely, according to a recent study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Avoid products containing phthalates and synthetic musk, which often goes by the name "white musk." But beware: because fragrance ingredients are rarely listed on labels, the only way to be certain about avoiding these chemicals is by going fragrance-free, says Scanton.

04 of 07

Anti-Aging Cream with Retinoids

face cream

When you're TTC, plan to spring clean the makeup bag of any beauty products, such as foundation or face masks, containing retinoids, a popular ingredient that is claimed to reverse aging and reduce wrinkles.

"Retinoids are a class of compounds related to vitamin A that when taken systemically by mouth are teratogenic [meaning they disturb the growth of an embryo or fetus]. We tell patients to avoid them when trying to conceive and during pregnancy because they can cause harm in the early embryonic stages, during the first two weeks of conception, as well as during later embryonic stages two to seven weeks and also during fetal development," explains Khalid M. Sultan M.D., the director of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "The concerns range from craniofacial defects, cardiovascular defects and central nervous system defects so we advise strict avoidance."

Good pregnant-to-be-safe retinol alternative ingredients include glycolic acid and vitamin C.

05 of 07

Acetone-Based Nail Products

Nail polish

Sure, pretty fingernails and toes can feel like a must, but you might want to stay away from acetone-based products, advises Washington D.C.-based primary care physician Shilpi Agarwal, M.D. Many experts recommend avoiding frequent or long-term exposure because we don't fully understand the effects of acetone on fertility.

06 of 07

Non-Prescription Health Meds

Scattered Pills Candy Gummies
Aaron Dyer

"When it comes to over-the-counter products, these are typically not tested in pregnant people and we just don't have data," says cosmetic dermatologist and RealSelf chief aesthetic advisor, Doris Day, M.D. It's best to play it safe with non-prescription beauty and health products.

"I tell my patients to stop what they're using once they find out they're pregnant and to follow up so we can review their regimen and adjust as needed," says Dr. Day. "I also recommend they speak with their obstetrician to see if they have any special restrictions."

07 of 07

Scrubs, Soaps, and Creams With Parabens

Michael Kraus

Don't forget to read the ingredients lists on your body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and soaps. Parabens are a type of preservative used to prevent the growth of bacteria and have the ability to take on the characteristics of estrogen, according to Jerald S. Goldstein, M.D., the founder and medical director at Fertility Specialists of Texas.

"While every person produces estrogen, too much of it definitely has an impact on fertility. Estrogen regulates hormones in both men and women. When hormones are out of balance, the chances of creating healthy eggs or healthy sperm is reduced. Look for products with paraben as part of the ingredient's name—i.e. propylparaben, ethylparaben, etc.—then eliminate as many as you can in the six months leading up to conception and during the conception process," he explains.

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