1 in 5 women experience fertility issues.
I know those aren’t the best statistics - Especially for women hoping to get pregnant naturally or seeking remedies to get pregnant immediately.
Despite what phase of the journey you’re in, or the emotions you have around the topic, we hope to provide helpful, heart-centered information that you can easily implement into your routine.
The exact cause of infertility varies from woman to woman, but it generally can be narrowed down to diet, habits, lifestyle choices and/or overall health, coupled with genetic predispositions. Common causes for infertility range from PCOS to endometriosis, with some notable complications including premature birth, miscarriages and other health risks in the long run.
But, what if I told you that some everyday items could be preventing you from conceiving?
In this post, I’ll be highlighting what you should avoid or reduce if you’re trying to get pregnant naturally:
- An unhealthy diet
- Fragrances & toxic preservatives;
- Retinol; and
- Over-the-counter medication.
The average woman comes in contact with these items on a daily basis - From starting their day with a cup of coffee to using creams in their nighttime skin care routine.
It may seem difficult to stop using these essentials overnight. Fortunately, you won’t have to cut them out completely!
Along with highlighting what to avoid---and why you should---I’ll also share some natural ways to increase fertility. By swapping these items with safer alternatives, you are naturally boosting your body’s reproductive system.
Let’s start off with how caffeine affects fertility.
When you think of ‘caffeine’, the first thought that comes to mind is coffee. However, caffeine can show up in sodas, espresso, energy drinks and even chocolate.
It's not the easiest thing to cut out, with an estimated 90% of adults worldwide consuming caffeine everyday. Besides, caffeine is considered a stimulant - It gives our nervous system a 'kick' and makes us more alert and energized.
So, why should you reduce caffeine when trying to conceive?
Women who consume caffeinated products take longer to get pregnant. Based on some findings, drinking large amounts of caffeine (greater than 200 mg daily) may result in a higher risk of miscarriage.
Over the course of 3 months, 104 women were found less likely to become pregnant if they drank 1 or more cups of brewed coffee per day. That same study concluded that high caffeine use would lead to increased infertility.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that some experts advise women to avoid caffeine if they are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. To naturally boost your fertility, you must reduce your caffeine intake, find healthy caffeine alternatives or cut it out completely.
Alternatives To Caffeine
Caffeine replacement is easier than it seems. Instead of your morning cup of coffee or espresso, consider drinking herbal tea instead. As we all know, the plant kingdom contains thousands of botanicals known to have a positive benefit on our health! Here are a few herbs you can work in to promote energy, lower inflammation, and enhance fertility:
- Red clover tea
- Chamomile tea
- Ashwagandha tea
These herbs have been studied and shown to boost hormone levels and increase a woman’s chance of conceiving.
The same could be done for finding natural alternatives to your favorite sodas and chocolates. Make sure to shop around for some all-natural energy drinks and chocolates that have their caffeine content clearly listed on the label.
What to Add: Nutrition
With all this talk on what to avoid, we would be remiss if we didn’t discuss what to add in and specifically, how nutrition impacts fertility.
Fruits and Vegetables
Adding your favorite fruits and vegetables to your meals (or making them into smoothies) could significantly improve your reproductive health. They help enhance mitochondrial function, improve hormone levels, and lower inflammation. Our favorite fertility friendly foods include pomegranates, dates, leafy greens, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, fatty fish, and fermented foods like sauerkraut and kefir.
Your body produces hormones from healthy fats. That said, you need to be eating healthy fats to naturally improve fertility! You can start small with flaxseed, chia, and pumpkin seeds. Gradually, consider using coconut oil or olive oil when cooking. For even higher nutritional value, eat more fatty fish like salmon and healthy meats like grass-fed beef.
Mother Nature’s arsenal is full of herbs and herbal remedies for your reproductive health. Adding herbs like black cohosh or maca could boost your fertility. We love maca in powder form and typically, ½ tsp in tea is sufficient to reap the many benefits. However, be sure to always discuss with your healthcare provider before adding new herbs and supplements to your routine.
Reducing caffeine shouldn’t be hard, and research confirmed that it takes roughly nine days to completely get over caffeine completely. Some people have reported feeling less dependent on caffeine after only two-three days.
#2: Fragrances / Perfumes
While their scents are often to die for, artificial fragrances do a lot more harm than good.
Fragrance is best defined as a combination of chemicals that give off a very distinct scent. They can be found in moisturizers, shampoo, makeup products and, of course, your everyday perfume (or parfum). In everyday personal-care products they can typically be found on ingredient lists simply labeled as fragrance.
Feeling good means smelling good, too. I’m sure you agree with me and the estimated 41% of women who use perfumes daily!
So, what’s the relationship between perfumes and fertility?
One of the leading ingredients in cosmetics like perfumes is diethyl phthalate. Also known as DEP, diethyl phthalate is a substance that helps scents linger for longer after use.
In one study of 430 women, it was found that couples with higher exposure to phthalates took longer to conceive a child within the first six cycles of trying.
Women who are trying to conceive should avoid using products that contain phthalates, including perfumes and fragrances. That same precaution should be extended to expecting mothers.
Mothers-to-be may suffer pregnancy complications from using perfumes and fragrances, too. Some studies have highlighted that phthalates can increase the risk of miscarriage or pregnancy loss in expecting mothers.
Related Reading: The Olea Guide to Safer Products
Safe Alternatives For Perfumes
Now, don’t get me wrong. Scented products aren’t the issue - Fragrances are! You’re better off using essential oils, mists and body butters as a safe alternative to perfumes.
That way, you still receive that undeniable benefit of using fragrances in the first place, which is smelling good!
One recommended alternative to body perfumes is our Satin Dreams Mango Body Butter. Thoroughly apply Satin Dreams after you shower and the natural scent from the lemongrass and citrus essential oils will last up to 12 hours.
If you prefer to DIY your very own fragrance substitute, you’re in luck! Here are some other great perfume alternatives:
- A body spray infused with lemon & orange essential oils
- Roll on lavender or frankincense essential oils
- A scented mist from (blended) cucumber & aloe vera gel
Otherwise, you can see (or smell) the difference for yourself here.
#3: Anti-Aging Creams
Navigating skin care while trying to conceive is tricky. More often than not, we don’t pay close attention to the ingredients or warning labels on our favorite products.
After all, if it’s working great for you, what’s the point?
Chances are, if you are using any product that reduces fine lines and wrinkles, then it likely has retinol - One of the leading ingredients in most anti-aging creams.
Retinol has high amounts of Vitamin A content. If used topically---and in high amounts---this can cause issues to the female reproductive system. Most healthcare experts recommend women avoid retinol while trying to conceive due to the potential negative impact it can have on developing embryos and fetus’.
An increase in Vitamin A (eg: Retinol) levels in the body is linked to fetus malformation in pregnant women, according to one study.
Given its effect on women who have conceived, it’s safe to assume that retinol is also unsafe when trying to conceive.
Of the studies highlighting retinol and pregnancy, there is no solid conclusion on its effects on fertility. Research in this area remains limited. Just like pregnant women, it’s recommended that women who are trying to get pregnant should avoid using products with retinol, too.
Another skin care ingredient that affects fertility are parabens. Found in anti-aging creams, among other skin care products, parabens are commonly used as preservatives.
According to one study at an infertility clinic, exposure to parabens may lead to diminished ovarian reserve - That is, the number of healthy eggs in your ovaries. Parabens are also believed to affect estrogen, which is the female hormone behind our reproductive health and fertility rate.
Safe Alternatives For Anti-Aging Creams
All is not lost: Women who are trying to get pregnant still have anti-aging options.
If you use retinol-based products, you are likely targeting wrinkles and fine lines. Fortunately, there are other natural retinol alternatives that do the same thing!
One of my favorite natural oils to recommend for fine lines and wrinkles is tamanu oil.
Tamanu oil comes from the nut of the Tamanu tree found in Africa and Asia. According to numerous studies on tamanu oil, it has cell proliferation activity and significantly increases production of collagen and glycosaminoglycan, confirming its anti-aging impact. And, tamanu oil is recognized as being very safe for preconception and through all stages of pregnancy.
If you’re in the market for a new face wash that cleanses yet smoothes fine lines, check out our new Sweet Fantasy Anti-aging Face Wash - it’s packed with tamanu oil!!
Science-backed research shows that any retinol alternative for pregnancy is also safe when attempting to conceive. While Vitamin A should be avoided entirely, Vitamin C is another pregnancy safe retinol alternative - That means researchers believe it won’t affect your fertility rate or reproductive organs!
Those of us who are treating conditions like hyperpigmentation may be familiar with this next option: Glycolic acid. It doubles as a great natural retinol alternative that targets wrinkles, too!
Here are a few more skin care products that are safe to use when trying to get pregnant:
- Kojic acid for dark spots
- Lactic acid for exfoliating
- Bakuchiol for uneven skin tone
#4: Over-the-Counter Medication
When a headache sets in, the last thing you’re thinking about is how painkillers affect your fertility. However, taking over-the-counter (OTC) medication should be done with caution when you’re trying to conceive.
I’m sure you can relate to the 9 in 10 people across America who regularly take these non-prescription medications. Painkillers are among the most commonly used - Specifically, OTC medication with ingredients like ibuprofen (eg: Advil®).
The issue with over-the-counter painkillers, however, is that they are not usually tested on pregnant women. Because of this, there isn’t enough data to show the effects they may have on the reproductive system.
However, a 2015 study confirmed that ibuprofen affects fertility in women trying to conceive. After taking ibuprofen, ovulation rates dropped by 25%-75% across all 39 female participants, which significantly impacts the likelihood of them getting pregnant.
Like the women who are already pregnant, you should avoid OTC painkillers to the best of your ability when trying for a baby. Always opt for a prescription: That way, the doctor can recommend medication that won’t have an impact on fertility.
Safe Alternatives To Painkillers
Where painkillers and other over-the-counter medications fall flat, you'll be happy to know that Mother Nature is more reliable: Using herbal teas as a painkiller alternative could be helpful!
The appeal to using painkillers comes from their anti-inflammatory properties. Common medication targets the source of the pain and decreases the inflammation in that specific area.
But, that can be achieved with natural alternatives to painkillers, like turmeric. According to one source, curcuma extract (found in turmeric) was just as effective as ibuprofen in treating knee osteoarthritis.
Research from 2015 confirmed that ingesting as little as 2g of ginger reduced muscle pain associated with exercise. Fortunately, raw ginger can easily be added to smoothies or brewed as a tea to reap these benefits.
A quick look through your cabinet could reveal more natural pain relievers, too! Here are a few more examples of pain remedies:
- Essential oils like lavender for headaches.
- Herbs like ginseng, rosemary, and ashwagandha for inflammatory pain.
How Male Infertility Could Be Impacting Your Fertility
A third of infertility cases are caused by male reproductive issues. If left unaddressed, this can significantly affect you and your partner’s attempts to conceive.
Like female infertility, infertility in men can be a result of various issues. An open and honest conversation with your partner could potentially improve your chances at improving your combined fertility.
That conversation should include a look at the products that your partner uses.
When trying to conceive, urge your partner to also consider avoiding the same things that you plan to, and encourage him to adopt a healthy diet.
Before You Go
Here’s a general rule of thumb for improving fertility naturally: If pregnant women aren’t allowed to take or consume it, you should follow in their footsteps and avoid it. Your partner should also take the necessary steps to do the same.
If you are on a journey to balance functionality and fertility, our products are a safe bet. We craft them with one thing in mind: the health of our customers. It’s our number one priority. Where fragrances and beauty are concerned, our brand carries a wide array of natural products infused with therapeutic herbs and only gentle preservatives are used.
There are countless ways to improve fertility naturally - reducing caffeine, incorporating healthy foods, and swapping toxic personal-care products for natural ones is a great place to start. Managing stress, exercise, and sleep are important factors as well, but we’ll save the nitty gritty for our next article. If you’re looking to get started on optimizing your lifestyle to improve fertility naturally - work with a holistic doctor, functional nutritionist, or health coach to ensure you’re on the right path.
Browse the Olea Herbals selection here.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended for medical use. Please consult your healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement, medication, lifestyle, diet, exercise, or other routines.