When you initially think that it might be time for you and your partner to start a family, you might begin thinking far more about your (and their) fertility. And when you consider the impact that a variety of different things might have on your fertility, you likely think of things like your ages, the chemicals you're exposed to, and more. But what you might not be thinking about are common household appliances that may make you less fertile, which are things you might want to know more about if you're trying to conceive.
It's important to note that even many of the appliances and chemicals that can potentially have an effect shouldn't have an effect at the levels to which you're exposed. So there's no need, necessarily, to immediately throw away every household product that contains chemicals or every appliance in your home. And some of the things that you maybe would assume would be no-nos, from a fertility standpoint, might not actually have much evidence, at least as of yet, to substantiate those claims. Still, knowing about some of the things that you keep around your house that might be causing some preventable harm, particularly if used in certain ways, is important because it allows you to make more informed choices. And knowing which sorts of appliances and other things might be affecting your fertility can give you an idea of some additional topics to broach with your doctor that you may not have otherwise thought you needed to discuss.
1. Laptop Computers
Laptop computers aren't all bad, and the links between laptops and female fertility issues don't seem to be rock-solid. Keeping them off your lap if you're someone producing sperm, however, can be a good idea, Dr. Paul Turek, MD, an expert in men's reproductive and sexual health, tells Romper by email. Setting your laptop on a table or on top of a pillow on your lap when you use it is a good way to go.
"Stovetop heat is bad for sperm production as the burners are at the exact wrong height for men, and we know that excessive heat impairs sperm production, but professional chefs don’t appear to have higher rates of male infertility," Turek says. So while you likely don't have to be too worried, just being aware of how close to the heat you might be, particularly if you're trying to conceive, is a good, general rule.
3. Cell Phones
Cell phones may or may not affect your fertility. Parenting reported that there's not currently enough research to determine whether or not there's truly a link between cell phones and infertility. "Based on population studies and not good scientific studies, cell phones may possibly affect male fertility, so just keep them on the counter and not in your front pant pocket," Turek advises. Going hands-free when you can might also be a good idea.
4. Hot Baths Or Hot Tubs
"Stay out of that hot tub in the backyard or that hot bath in the bedroom as these will wreak havoc on sperm counts," Turek says. Because hotter temperatures can interfere with sperm counts and sperm production, it's important to be aware of what sorts of things you might be doing when you're trying to conceive.
You might be surprised to know that thermostats can contain mercury, as This Old House noted. And though you might think that mercury primarily just affects a fetus's development, a 2002 study in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that couples struggling with fertility had higher amounts of mercury in their blood than couples who didn't, so it's still important to know where you might be getting exposed.
"Microwaves are top of mind…but appear safe," Turek says. "Electrical currents and the magnetic fields that they create would have sterilized us years ago if they were they significant." But the way that you use your microwave might be doing some harm.
In an interview with ABC News Australia, Dr. Mark Green, a reproductive biology expert, said that microwaving your takeout or leftovers in the takeout containers in which they came can potentially have an effect. So make sure you transfer your food to a microwave-safe dish before heating.
7. Washing Machines
The Telegraph reported that washing machines could potentially have a negative effect on fertility indirectly because researchers have found that clothing might hold onto phthalates and other compounds that are then released into the washing water and make their way into the sewer system.
It's important to know how the things that are in your house and that you use on a regular basis might affect your health, including your fertility. Knowing that you might want to avoid certain things or use them differently when trying to conceive can help you make the decisions that are right for you with more confidence.