5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Infertility

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Infertility 5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Infertility

If you are planning to get pregnant, it is important to consider ways to prevent infertility. Most women are unaware of how to avoid infertility. In fact, few women realize that their fertility clock winds down quickly, declining at around age 27.

Surprisingly, the fertility clock declines for men, too. Studies show that men start losing their fertility as young as age 35.  Age is an important fertility consideration for both women and men.

Tip 1: Get tested for STDs
Getting the right STD information is vital to preventing infertility. Having unprotected sex one time can lead to a lifetime of illness, treatments—and sterility.

Getting tested and treated for STDs may save you a lifetime of problems. The main STDs that can lead to infertility (and sterility) include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and human papillomavirus (HPV).

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) leads to infertility and affects more than 1 million women in the United States per year. PID describes infections or inflammation that has the potential for permanently scarring the reproductive tract--the uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes. 

While PID causes scar tissue that can damage or block organs, PID is a preventable cause of infertility. Talk to your doctor about PID, and seek treatment to prevent further problems getting pregnant.

Tip 2: Avoid environmental toxins
Environmental toxins affect both male and female fertility, as well as the health of the unborn baby.

There are reports of genital birth defects in boys related to exposure to phthalates in the womb. Phthalates are chemicals that disrupt hormones.  To prevent exposure to phthalates, select plastic products with the recycling code 1, 2 or 5.

Scientists have reported high levels of mercury in fish that can lead to miscarriage, cancer, and maybe even autism. To protect yourself and future children, avoid eating fish that have high levels of mercury, including shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish. 

In addition, limit eating fish to 12 ounces a week. Only ingest fish with low levels of mercury such as salmon, shrimp, canned light tuna, pollock and catfish. Avoid canned albacore tuna, which is known to have higher levels of mercury.

Another environmental toxin to watch out for is the chemical bisphenol A (BPA). BPA, a known hormone disrupter, is sometimes used in products such as food cans, dental sealants, and milk container linings. Some studies show that BPA increases breast cancer cell growth and the growth of some prostate cancer cells also.  

Watch out for benzene! This is another endocrine disrupter that’s used in lubricants, rubbers, dyes, and detergents. Benzene may be found in some types of nail polish, hair coloring products and paint.  

The problem with benzene is that it’s been found to cause women to stop having periods, and it lowers sperm count in men. This toxin may cause hyperactivity in some children.

Tip 3: Don’t Smoke
If you smoke, stop now. Almost every study concludes that smoking and second-hand smoke seriously impact fertility. Experts connect smoking with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS.

Tip 4: Avoid Phthalates
To avoid phthalates, always read the product label. You can recognize phthalates in some products by the actual chemical name or abbreviation. Here are some examples to watch for:

  • DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate) and DEP (diethyl phthalate) -- used in personal care products.
  • DEHP (di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) -- used in PVC plastics and medical devices.
  • BzBP (benzylbutyl phthalate)  -- used in flooring, car products and personal care products.
  • DMP (dimethyl phthalate) -- used in insect repellent and some plastics.
  1. Be Your Own Bodyguard

Most importantly, be your own bodyguard to protect your fertility. You and your partner should be educated and aware of problems that can make pregnancy difficult. Also, see your doctor regularly for the necessary tests and treatments that will let you enjoy optimal health—and fertility.

Ask a doctor about infertility prevention

This content is Copyright The American Fertility Association (AFA) 2010. This content is intended for personal use and may not be distributed or reproduced without AFA consent. Please contact info@theafa.org or visit theafa.org for more information.