More than five million couples in the United States struggle with infertility — that's about one in every 10 couples. Celebrities like Chrissy Teigen and Gabrielle Union have been honest about their struggles to conceive, as well as the medical interventions which were required in order for them to finally achieve their dreams of motherhood. Millions of women across the country can relate these struggles, and if you have ever battled infertility, then you know the pain and heartbreak it entails. Luckily, there are many things you can do to help protect your fertility. While some may be obvious, here are five surprising things you might be doing right now that can harm your chances of getting pregnant.
1. Too Much Ibuprofen
Many men think nothing of grabbing a handful of ibuprofen whenever they have muscle aches after the gym or are battling a headache. However, a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that men who take ibuprofen on a regular basis could suffer from hypogonadism, which is a hormonal condition that could cause infertility in men. Instead, encourage your partner to consider other natural methods of pain-relief, such as using a hot pad or having a massage.
2. Low Iodine
By now, most women know that being a healthy weight is an important factor when it comes to getting pregnant. While many women tend to focus on the calories and carbs they consume, they also need to focus on the amount of iodine they're eating as well. Women who are low in iodine have HALF the chance of conceiving as women who have a healthy level of iodine. If you're concerned that your iodine levels might be low, or if you have a history of thyroid issues in your family, talk to your OBGYN about getting your blood tested.
Luckily, there are many ways to get more iodine into your diet, such as eating eggs, seafood, or dairy, or by taking a supplement with iodine. The American Thyroid Association recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding women take a multivitamin containing at least 150 mg of iodine per day, and this is a good practice if you are trying to become pregnant as well.
3. The Wrong Lubricant
Couples know that they need to enjoy lots of love-making in order to increase their chance of conception, but when it comes to making babies, not all lubricants are created equal. In fact, many lubricants can actually harm sperm and prevent pregnancy. There is only one lubricant on the market which has an FDA-cleared formula and is recommended for fertility enhancement, and that is ToConcieve.
ToConcieve was created by OBGYNs in conjunction with Callitas Health Inc. The fertility-enhancing gel is unlike any other fertility product on the market in that it actually encourages the woman's body to create more of her own lubricant. This adds to her pleasure and can also increase the activation of sperm and the woman's chances of pregnancy.
4. Too Much Soda
Do you love your Coca-Cola? What about your partner? If you're always reaching for a fizzy drink, you might want to rethink your habits. A recent study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that drinking one or more sodas a day can reduce you and your partner's fertility. Sugary drinks were shown to have a negative impact on fertility across the board, so if you're trying to become parents, be careful that you aren't drinking beverages that are high in sugar. Instead, try flavored sparkling water or water infused with fresh fruit and herbs.
5. Too Much Red Meat
A new Greek study has found that women who eat a Mediterranean diet are more likely to be successful on their IVF journey than women who do not. The researchers found that women who ate a Mediterranean diet six months before beginning IVF were more likely to become pregnant then women who didn't change their diet at all. In other words, eating a plant-based diet with lots of healthy fats (such as olive oil and avocados) and lean protein (such as fish) could help boost your fertility.
Ultimately, many couples do require medical interventions like IVF in order to become pregnant, but it is good to know there are many other ways that can help support and protect your fertility before going to the doctor.