Trying to make a baby, but not getting a big fat positive? Something in your house might be hindering your progress…

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So, you’ve managed to snag the man or woman of your dreams and buy a home to call your own, but you’re still not getting any closer to starting your dream family. Sometimes it’s your health, sometimes its genetics, but other times external factors could also be keeping you from realising your dreams of parenthood. And did you know that these include random items lying around your home?


From cleaning solutions and bath creams to the veggies in your fridge crisper, SmartParents expert Dr Christopher Chong and consultant ob-gyn, Dr Peter Chew reveal which one of your unassuming household products may be derailing your baby-making efforts.


The Culprit Oil-based paints and paint thinners are made from ingredients that contain endocrine disruptors – chemicals that interfere with your hormone system. “These toxic chemicals may cause miscarriage, premature birth, physical birth defects and behavioural problems in the baby,” says Dr Chew.

The Solution Try minimising your exposure to these products as much as possible. If your home is due for a repaint or renovation, avoid coming into contact with the area until the work has been completed. Better yet, go on a baby-making staycation while the painting works are being done.

Canned foods

The Culprit These processed foods come in tins lined with Bisphenol-A (BPA) a chemical commonly found in plastics, which can find its way into your food over time. Exposure to BPA is known to lead to decreased sperm count and quality, adds Dr Chong.

The Solution Processed canned foods all tend to contain high amounts of salt, preservatives and oil, ingredients that aren’t just bad for your fertility, but also your overall health. Instead, include more fresh fruits and vegetables for a fertility boost.

Hair dye

The Culprit While traditional hair dyes are generally regarded to be safe, women who are trying to conceive should still avoid colouring their hair if they have open wounds or cuts on their scalp. Why? Because the substances in the dye will enter into their bloodstream and affect their overall wellbeing, explains Dr Chong.

The Solution Choose vegetable-based dyes instead, suggests Dr Chew. Or if you want to be extra cautious, Dr Chong says to avoid dying your hair for the time being, and that includes touch ups.

Body fragrance

The Culprit Synthetic fragrances may contain phthalates and synthetic musk. These ingredients can disrupt your hormone levels and negatively impact your fertility.

The Solution Since it can be difficult to assess the ingredients that go into your fragrances, cut down on your usage or go without it if possible.

Anti-aging creams

The Culprit Anti-aging creams contain retinoids – great for boosting collagen and reducing fine lines. However, the same ingredient also contains teratogens which can disturb the growth of an embryo or foetus. Dr Chong shares that it can also lead to cranio-facial defects, plus cardiac and nerve damage as well. “Some believe that it may increase baby’s risk of cancer in the future,” he adds.

The Solution Best to avoid the use of these products.

Nail polish remover

The Culprit Nail polish removers contain harmful chemicals such as glycol, biocides, lead and mercury, which can lead to an increased risk of miscarriages, premature labour and organ damage in your little one. The effects can also be long term, as babies can have mental and behavioural problems after birth as well.

The Solution Short-term exposure doesn’t trigger any serious effects, but it’s best to avoid using these removers on a regular basis.

Body soap

The Culprit You favourite body soap contains chemicals like parabens that prevent the growth of bacteria. However, it can also affect ovulation and egg quality in women by overloading your body with oestrogen. Increased oestrogen in your man’s body can also affect the health and quality of his sperm over time.

The Solution Use paraben-free body soaps.

Pesticides in fresh produce

The Culprit According to some studies, chemicals such as dibromochloropropane and ethylene dibromide are found in pesticides and can negatively affect male fertility. Several other studies in the US have also shown a decline in semen quality and an increased risk of male subfertility following their exposure to fruits and veggies that have been grown with pesticides.

The Solution Ensure that you wash your produce thoroughly before cooking or consuming them. Otherwise, you may want to switch to organic foods, since they have zero exposure to synthetic pesticides.

Laundry detergent

The Culprit Some chemicals found in petroleum-based detergents – such as parabens, phthalates and formaldehyde – can disrupt a woman’s menstrual cycle and cause miscarriages. Men aren’t spared either as these chemicals can also negatively affect semen quality.

The Solution Switch to fragrance-free detergents that contain fewer chemicals or those that are plant based.

Non-stick Pots and Pans

The Culprit The non-stick coating contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is linked to reproductive problems. Women with high levels of PFOA in their blood experience a harder time getting pregnant. Even when they do conceive, their babies will have challenges meeting their developmental milestones.

The Solution Stop cooking with Teflon pans at home and avoid other products that contain PFOA, such as microwavable containers and bags.