Toxins and Chemicals to Avoid When Trying to Get Pregnant

Your body reacts to everything that you eat, drink, and come in contact with. Whether you’re ingesting food or using topical creams, our body processes things which will either benefit us or do us harm. During pregnancy and while trying to conceive, your body is even more sensitive to outside factors. We know how important it is to eat nutritious foods and stay active during pregnancy, but it’s also important that we avoid the exposure of certain toxins and chemicals. While many people don’t think twice about what they use during their everyday routines, there are many toxins and chemicals that can impact fertility and fetal development. It’s not always easy to avoid these toxins, but the sacrifice and extra effort make a huge difference. In this article, we’ll explore some of the top toxins and chemicals to avoid when trying to get pregnant and after conception.

Top 11 Toxins and Chemicals to Avoid

Most people know how important it is to stop smoking, limit caffeine consumption, and avoid alcohol during pregnancy. Scientific research has linked fetal development issues and fertility problems with increased consumption of all three. However, there are a lot of toxins and chemicals that many people don’t think twice about or even know they’re being exposed to. Here are the top 11 toxins and chemicals to avoid for a healthy conception and pregnancy.

1. Parabens

Parabens are a type of preservative commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria in products. Parabens have been known to take on certain characteristics of estrogen, which plays a direct role on fertility. If your body produces too much estrogen, your hormones become unbalanced and the chances of creating healthy eggs or sperm are reduced. Because of this, many doctors have concluded that parabens should be avoided. Parabens are often found in makeup, creams, and soaps and come in many different forms. Try to eliminate parabens in the six months leading to conception, during conception, and throughout the course of your pregnancy.

2. House Paint

While it might seem like common knowledge, it’s still important to note: house paint has a huge effect on your body. House paint, paint thinner, and other painting supplies contain high levels of lead and mercury, which put you at a higher risk of miscarrying and increase the likelihood of physical and mental birth defects. If you need to get your house painted, have someone else do it while you a safe distance away in a well-ventilated area. This includes painting a nursery! Help pick out the color, then let your partner do the work.

3. BPA and Other Bisphenols

It’s become increasingly evident that BPA, or Bisphenol A, is toxic and should be avoided—even if you’re not trying to conceive. BPA is found in certain foods, consumer products, and packaging and can get into your body through inhalation, ingestion, or through contact with the skin. BPA has been linked to recurrent miscarriage and can lower your fertility levels. Instead, opt for BPA-free products and always wash your fruits and vegetables to get rid of any lingering pesticides.

4. Phthalates

Phthalates are responsible for giving products their scent. Synthetic fragrances like perfume are laden with heavy phthalates that cause disruptions to the hormones that play a part in fertility and breast milk production. Since many phthalates aren’t listed on fragrant products, look for things with a label saying “fragrance-free” for the best way to limit your exposure. If you want something scented, try using essential oils as an alternative.

5. Retinoids

As we age, we start to turn to products that will help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin. Many products that help achieve these effects use retinoids and retinols. However, retinoids can disturb the growth of an embryo or fetus, so they should be avoided when trying to conceive and during pregnancy. These are most dangerous when taken orally, but to make sure that you’re staying safe, it’s a good idea to remove them from your topical face-regimen during this time as well.

6. Acetone

Acetone is commonly used to remove nail polish, but it’s also in many polishes too. Acetone has been shown to cause long-term effects on fertility, so it should be avoided when trying to conceive. Thanks to many health-conscious companies, this doesn’t mean you have to keep your nails bare. There are plenty of nail polishes and nail polish removers that don’t use acetone in their ingredients. Just make sure to do some research prior to going shopping, as many nail polishes don’t list out their ingredients on the packaging.

7. Hair Dyes

While a lot of people get their hair dyed and think nothing of it, hair dye actually contains a lot of toxic chemicals. When applied, the hair dye can absorb into your body via your scalp. Even though many people think that dyeing their hair is safe, it’s not always the cause. If you absolutely need to dye your hair, opt for vegetable-based hair dyes that aren’t laden with heavy toxins.

8. Unapproved Supplements

Over-the-counter medicines provide a lot of relief when we’re feeling sick or trying to supplement our diets. Unfortunately, not all of them are safe. Many non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines don’t have enough information to be proven safe for conception and pregnancy. To make sure you’re not taking anything that could reduce your fertility or harm your baby, always talk to your doctor about your supplement regimen. Your doctor will be able to tell you what is safe and what is not and will give you a list of approved supplements or medicines to use during this time. If you’re looking for natural ways to boost fertility, read this article.

9. Heavy Metals

Heavy metal like lead, aluminum, nickel, and more have a direct impact on the development of your baby. Exposure to these types of neurotoxic metals can cause permanent brain damage, nervous system disorders, behavior and learning difficulties, and hyperactivity. Always make sure that you are drinking filtered water to avoid any lead contamination from your water pipes and don’t paint during pregnancy. If you’re not sure whether or not your tap water is safe, take the time to do some research or drink bottled water instead. Instead of harming brain development, use these tips to boost it.

10. Pesticides

Pesticides are harmful to everyone, but are a significant concern for women who are trying to conceive or pregnant. The chemicals in pesticides attack the nervous system and when exposed during pregnancy can cause problems with neural tube development. To limit your exposure to pesticides, opt for organic fruits and vegetables and always take the time to wash them thoroughly before consumption. Environmental toxins, like pesticides, should be avoided to ensure healthy fertility.

11. Harsh Cleaners

Many of our everyday cleaning products contain a lot of toxins and chemicals. While we don’t necessarily think of this since they’re used to clean our home, harsh cleaners can wreak havoc on fertility and affect the healthy development of a fetus. Learn more about which household cleaners could hurt your fertility and instead, opt for green, natural alternatives.

How to Reduce Exposure

The best way to  reduce your exposure to these toxins and chemicals is to be observant. Read the labels on your products thoroughly and avoid using any products with the above toxins or chemicals in their ingredients. Instead, opt for green products that are made from more natural ingredients. It’s also recommended to reduce the amount of chemicals that you’re exposed to in foods by eating whole, nutritious foods and avoiding overly processed things. When shopping for canned items, look for those that are in glass containers or at least BPA-free cans. Make sure that you reheat food correctly and never put any plastics, wrap, or takeaway containers in the microwave. Instead, transfer your food to a glass container or reheat it in the oven. Avoid using strong air fresheners and perfumes that may contain high amounts of chemicals and try to replace potent household products with a green or natural alternative.

Finally, while it might be difficult, try to hold off on the makeover. Many hair salons and nail salons use products that are laden with these toxins and chemicals and the only way to avoid exposure is to hold off on the highlights or acrylics.


Avoiding every possible exposure of toxins and chemicals is difficult, but don’t stress too much about it. Being mindful and controlling the things that are controllable will help to drastically reduce your exposure and keep your body safe. If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, and you’ve replaced all of your toxic products with safer alternatives, talk to your doctor about fertility testing. There are also a number of fertility treatments available to help. For other great pregnancy tips, tricks, and stories, head over to Byram Healthcare today. Don’t forget, when you do conceive, new mothers are eligible to receive an electric breast pump covered by their insurance provider through the Affordable Care Act.

In the meantime, head over to our Facebook page to share advice on the best green products that you used during conception and pregnancy today!