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One in 10 women will have trouble getting or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Whether you’re actively trying to conceive or aren’t even thinking about babies yet, the little things you’re doing now can actually have a serious impact on your current and future reproductive health.
Here are a few small things you might be doing that can affect your fertility
Boxed macaroni and cheese could be hurting your fertility.
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In 2017, the Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging tested 30 varieties of cheese products. Researchers found that 29 of those cheese products tested positive for the presence of phthalates, which are hormone-disrupting chemicals found in things like plastics, rubbers, adhesives, and fragrance.
Average phthalate levels were more than four times higher in macaroni and cheese powder than in natural cheese products. The average parts per billion (ppb) concentration of the harmful contaminants in cheese powder was 940, while the natural cheese products tested contained an average of 216 ppb.
Not flossing might be damaging your fertility.
Here’s another reason not to skip flossing tonight – according to Verywell Health, people suffering from dental problems like gingivitis and periodontal disease are more likely to face infertility issues.
People with fertility-affecting conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis are more likely to be diagnosed with gum disease than the general population. People with erectile dysfunction and low sperm count are also more likely to suffer from gum problems.
Your coffee addiction might be hindering your pregnancy plans.
If you chug coffee like it’s water, you might be messing with your fertility. A 2011 study found that caffeine can interfere with the muscle contractions that push eggs from the ovaries to the uterus.
Additionally, a 2012 study conducted in Denmark suggested that women who drink five cups or more of coffee per day are half as likely to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization.
Spending hours at the gym could be detrimental.
Though there’s no question that staying active and maintaining a healthy weight is important to overall health and fertility, overdoing it can lower a woman’s chances to conceive. According to Mayo Clinic, too much vigorous physical activity can inhibit the production of an important hormone called progesterone. Progesterone helps regulate ovulation, which is a crucial part of fertility.
In order to balance staying active with maintaining healthy hormone levels, try to limit intense physical activity to five hours a week while you’re trying to get pregnant.
Using your smartphone late at night isn’t good for your fertility.
According to a study published in the journal “Fertility and Sterility,” exposure to artificial nighttime light can reduce a woman’s ability to conceive and might even negatively affect fetal development in pregnant people.
The research has shown that artificial light at night can suppress production of the hormone melatonin, which functions in part to protect eggs from harmful free radicals and regulates the body’s sleep cycle. In pregnant women, a lack of melatonin might even disrupt the internal clock of a developing fetus.
Smoking, even occasionally, is terrible for your fertility.
If smoke, you could be putting your fertility in jeopardy. Per the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, infertility rates in both male and female smokers are around twice the rate of infertility experienced by nonsmokers. Female smokers are also less less likely to get pregnant through IVF and are more likely to miscarry.
The likelihood of infertility increases with the number of cigarettes smoked daily. Quitting can improve fertility, but because smoking harms a woman’s finite egg supply, some of the damage cannot be reversed.
Male smokers have also been shown to have decreased sperm counts, lower sperm motility, and more abnormally shaped sperm.
Not using a condom can put people at risk of infertility.
Though it may sound counter-intuitive, regular condom use can actually safeguard your ability to have a child when you’re ready.
Along with risks to your overall health, STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause infertility in women, according to the CDC. If left untreated, these infections can spread to the Fallopian tubes and cause scarring or blockage. When a fallopian tube is blocked, people are less likely to be able to conceive naturally and are more at risk of potentially life-threatening tubal or ectopic pregnancies.
Partying too much might impair your ability to ovulate.
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Though we don’t really know much about the effects of moderate drinking on fertility, heavy drinking is associated with an increased risk of ovulation problems. According to Mayo Clinic, a person’s ability to ovulate is likely hindered by consuming too much alcohol. In fact, doctors recommend abstaining from alcohol completely if you’re trying to get pregnant.
Being overweight has a negative effect on your fertility.
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Staying at a healthy weight is an important part of looking after your fertility. Carrying around unnecessary pounds can lead to trouble getting pregnant.
“When you’re overweight or obese, your adipose tissue produces more estrogen than necessary-which can prevent regular ovulation,” gynecologist Nita Landry explained to Self.
People who are obese are more likely to develop PCOS, which is the leading cause of infertility in women.
Crash dieting to stay thin can also make it harder to get pregnant.
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Just as being overweight can interfere with fertility, being underweight can also have a negative effect on your ability to conceive. According to the Office on Women’s Health, being underweight with a BMI of 18.5 of less can cause your body to stop making normal amounts of estrogen. Along with causing irregular menstrual cycles, this can prevent ovulation and greatly reduce the chances of conception.
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