Having a baby is always a momentous occasion. Think of couples who have just married. "When is the baby coming?" This is always he question for couple whenever there's a party, a family gathering, or a simple get together. For better or worse, it's what many people (and their family members) look forward to after tying the know.
Some couples, however, find it hard to conceive even after a lot of preparation and planning (and “hard work” in the bedroom). It’s not always as easy as just hitting the sack and then (TA-DA) the baby is on the way!
Certain allergies might be interfering with you and your partner’s efforts to conceive. Allergies are very common. If you have them, then you know that it can interfere with your daily activities and even lessen your quality of life. But many are not aware that allergies can also ward off a visit from the stork. If you are trying to conceive, you need to be well aware of these 15 allergens that might be preventing you from getting pregnant or preventing you from successfully carrying your baby full-term.
15 Difficulty Breathing
A recent study published in the European Respiratory Journal showed that asthma has negative effects on a woman’s chance of conceiving. The study revealed that asthma impairs fertility and can even cause miscarriages. Women with moderate to severe cases of asthma take longer to conceive.
When you are asthmatic, there is an imbalance in your immune system, and like any other inflammatory diseases, it has negative influences on your fertility. Experts advise women who are trying to conceive to control their asthma with medication.
You should avoid asthma triggers, which can include infections, irritants like cigarette smoke, and allergens like pollen and dust. If you are an asthmatic woman trying to conceive, talk to your health provider before attempting to become pregnant. Being well treated for your condition will greatly affect the success of your conception and pregnancy.
14 Dogs And Cats
The protein found in your pet’s urine, saliva, skin flakes, and dander can aggravate asthma or cause allergic reactions. Your pet’s fur or hair can also collect spores, mold, pollen, and many other outdoor allergens.
When an allergic reaction occurs, this can cause inflammation and like the links on a chain, inflammation can occur anywhere in the body, including the reproductive system. If this snowball effect occurs, it can lead to a woman having problems getting pregnant.
However, you do not have to give up your pets. You can consult an experienced and specialized immunologist or allergist to diagnose your allergy symptoms and develop a treatment plan that will help you manage your symptoms and keep your furry family members (including the husband).
13 Household Products
Common household items also cause allergy, including shampoos, bath soaps, detergents, and more, which can make it harder for you to get pregnant. When you expose yourself to these allergens every day, you weaken your immune system. When the immune system is weak, the body will work overtime to fight off the allergens. Your body’s focus will be to get you better and not on reproduction.
Moreover, according to a 2013 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, exposure to solvents, industrial compounds and pesticides can decrease a couple’s ability to have children. Cosmetics, paints, nail polish, cologne, shampoos, hair spray, eye shadow, hand lotions, gels, and detergents can contain phthalates, a chemical which causes reproductive problems. Toothpaste, deodorants, hand soaps, and antibacterial soap can contain triclosan, which causes infertility in both male and female.
12 Smoking Cigarettes
Smoke has been proven not to be an allergen, but it is an irritant that can cause allergic reactions, especially for people with asthma. Although it is not considered a true allergy, people with allergies can suffer from the various allergic reactions, including wheezing, watery eyes, sneezing, shortness of breath, runny nose, hoarseness, headache, cough, congestion, and burning eyes.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, smoking causes up to 13% of infertility cases in both men and women, as well. Smoke from cigarettes disrupt hormones and damages DNA, thus resulting in the disruption of endocrine function that affects the ability to have children. So if you are trying to become pregnant, it is best to quit smoking, and being around the smoke, way before conception.
11 Peas And Soybeans
Certain foods contain chemicals that can cause allergies and negatively affect a woman's fertility. Some foods may even prevent or delay a woman's chance of getting pregnant.
A reproductive expert looking into the allergic properties of food has identified peas as one of the foods women need to avoid and stated that it has a history of negatively affecting fertility as far back as 1949. Peas contain a naturally occurring chemical called m-xylohydroquinone that can hinder pregnancy, and currently, it’s being studied to be used as a natural contraceptive.
The food you consume today will have effects on your success to conceive, so avoid foods known to cause allergic reactions and affect fertility including, soybean and soy products, spinach and peanut butter, candy, high-sugar fruit drinks, soda pop, and foods that are high in sugar. They cause hormonal imbalance and affect egg cell production and ovulation. You need to stabilize and balance your hormones as much as possible when you are trying to conceive.
10 Over-The-Counter Medication
Certain medications can cause an abnormal reaction on a woman's immune system, causing fever, hives, itching, watery eyes, runny nose, shortness of breath, skin rash, swelling, and wheezing.
Additionally, use of various drugs can make your road to pregnancy even bumpier. They can alter ovulation and the ability of the ovary to release an egg, cause miscarriage and infertility, provoke vaginal yeast that can make cervical mucus hostile to sperm, increase the level of hormone prolactin that could suppress ovulation, and inhibit the release of prostaglandin thus delayed ovulation. Did I say a mouthful or what?
Moreover, according to the study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, miscarriage rates of women taking painkillers like ibuprofen and naproxen are more than two times higher compared to women who are not taking these prescriptions.
If you are planning to get pregnant, consult your doctor if you are taking any medication and find out which medicines are safe.
9 Gluten Intolerance
Many gluten intolerant women are not aware that this condition may lead them to bigger risks of having infertility problems. Gluten intolerance is one key factor that affects reproductive health and fertility issues in women.
According to an article published in the Journal of Gastroenterology, experts noted that sensitivity to celiac and gluten is associated with delayed menstruation, infertility, and repeated miscarriages. Untreated celiac disease may also lead to more serious hormonal related problems like anxiety and depression.
How does this untreated food intolerance affect reproductive health? Well, I’ll tell you. Food intolerance is like a glitch in your ability to fully digest foods. Hence causing partially digested protein to get into the bloodstream. Not good. When it causes disruption to the ovaries, the ability to function well is impaired. Women who are planning to have a baby should discover any food intolerance first before trying to become pregnant.
8 Rats And Mice
Who’s up for a game of cat and mouse when trying to become pregnant? If you are handling mice, then chasing after pregnancy may start to feel like you are starring in the cartoon Tom and Jerry, as Tom. Chasing and chasing to no avail. Here’s why. Similar to cats and dogs, you may also be allergic to guinea pigs, mice, and rats. Even if you do not have a rodent as a pet, having rats in your home can aggravate your asthma or cause various allergic reactions.
According to the Fairfax County Health Department, Virginia, rodent dander or dead skin, urine and droppings contain a special type of protein that may cause serious allergic reactions to some people.
Any woman who is pregnant or planning to have a baby should not get a rodent pet and wait fully until after giving birth to consider one. Those who already have one do not have to get rid of it, but should be extra careful in handling them. Pregnant women should avoid cleaning the cage or any contact with it. If you have a rat infestation, you may want to seek the assistance of a qualified pest control company that specializes in rodents.
7 Cup Of Joe
True. Coffee goes with a lot of things- morning, noon, and night, to name a few. However, if you are trying to conceive, drinking too much coffee can be like trying to slide into home plate on concrete. Just plain painful! If you are a coffee addict, you might be drinking 1-2 cups or more of Joe a day. Heaven right? Now, here comes the bad news. Caffeine can cause allergic reactions, including migraines or headaches, skin problems, such as severe itching, acne, rashes, eczema, and hives, swollen throat, glands, and tongue, dizziness, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and more.
According to one scientific study, some people lack the ability to process and break down caffeine, which result in caffeine build-up and causes caffeine sensitivity. In most of the cases, symptoms were noted after having a little to moderate amount of caffeine after drinking coffee, soda, tea, and/or energy drinks.
If you suspect that you have caffeine a allergy or caffeine sensitivity, then you may have to ease up or say goodbye to coffee and other drinks that contain caffeine. Even some decaffeinated drinks have caffeine, so you need to avoid them too. Your symptoms might not be that apparent, but it’s better to give up caffeine when you are trying to conceive, just to be on the safe side.
6 Spices and Herbs
These “spices of life” mix so well with so many things, it’s a wonder that mixing certain herbs and spices with trying to conceive can blow up in your face faster than a chemical “cocktail” while experimenting in chemistry class. No really. Herbs and spices add aroma and flavor to food. However, herbs and spices don’t always go well with conception and fertility.
The smallest amount can sometimes trigger allergic reactions. The most common appear to be mustard and celery. Some herb and spice allergens can be stabilized by heating them up or cooking and are easily degraded. However, some, like celery, are heat stable. Moreover, in many cases, many herbs are added fresh after cooking and are less exposed to heat, such as chives, basil, and parsley.
Spice and herb allergy often causes reactions in the mouth, including itching and swelling of the tongue and mouth. The most common herbs and spices that cause allergic reactions are hibiscus, dandelions, artichoke, Echinacea, ragweed, parsley, fennel, cumin, coriander, celery, and anis.
5 Perfumes and Sanitizers
We love to smell nice. However, the strong smell of scents is not as suitable for women trying to get pregnant and pregnant women. The combination of chemicals used to create that seductive scent can mess up your hormones. Moreover, if you are sensitive, then a small whiff can cause irritation and allergic reactions.
The National Academy of Sciences report shows that fragrances are made up of 95 percent petroleum-based chemicals, which can cause allergic reactions, as well as birth defects, cancer, central nervous system disorders.
Moreover, The Environmental Working Group warns that a common ingredient in perfumes called musk ketone, causes gynecological abnormalities, including compromised fertility and problems of the ovaries. Most perfumes contain chemicals that can harm the mother and the fetus.
4 Food Enhancers
According to the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, food additives, including monosodium glutamate, yellow dyes, sulfites, Butylated hydroxy toluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), potassium bromate, aspartame, nitrates and nitrites, and benzoates, causes allergic reactions.
Moreover, food additives that cause allergic reactions, such as MSG, BHT and BHA, and E951 or 951 a.k.a. Aspartame (Nutrasweet, Spoonful, Equal, Equal Measure) causes infertility at the same time.
MSG is a flavor enhancer used in many products, such as packet soup, gelatin, crackers, crisps, tortillas, noodles, candy, milk, gravies, sauces, soy sauce, and more. A study published in Neurobehavioral Toxicology showed that MSG reduced pregnancy success.
BHT and BHA are used to preserve fat and often used to preserve bacon, canned goods, baked goods, margarine, powdered soup, etc. BHT and BHA have the same negative effect on conception as MSG.
3 Oiling The Wheels
According to Dr. Arri Brown, author of Expecting 411; The Insiders Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth, during pregnancy, most women are naturally lubricated and wet due to extra vaginal discharge. But not all women are the same, vaginal dryness can also be possible for some pregnant women. Vaginal dryness is usually treated with vaginal lubricant products. However, lubricants can also cause allergic reactions, including burning sensation down there, itchiness, redness, rashes, dryness, eczema, swelling, and pain.
Moreover, various published researches have shown that using lubricant products during sexual intercourse may hinder conception. Lubricants cause a decrease in sperm viability or life and motility (ability to swim) thus affecting its ability to penetrate into the cervical mucus and into the fallopian tube to participate in fertilization.
2 Stress Level
Did you know stress can cause an allergic reaction? All of us have experienced stress, one way or the other. It is part of life’s daily struggles. Knowing how to cope with stress is particularly more important when you are trying to conceive. A breakthrough study from Tufts University and Greece done by scientists has finally identified what has long been suspected – high physical and emotional turmoil just before conception and during the early months of pregnancy can prevent pregnancy and/or cause a miscarriage after pregnancy.
The report explained that during stressful times, hormones are released by the brain, including one called corticotropin or CRH. CHR is also created in the uterus and placenta of a pregnant woman to trigger uterine contractions during delivery.
The recent study suggests that CHR, and different stress hormones, are also released in different parts of the body where it targets local mast cells, causing allergic reactions. If you are trying to conceive while you are stressed, the release of CHR could prevent you from becoming pregnant.
1 His Load
This is probably the strangest allergy in this list, but women can be allergic to their partner’s sperm. Hypersensitivity to seminal plasma or sperm allergy is an allergic reaction to the proteins found in a man’s semen. It is bizarre, but according to Dr. Jonathan Bernstein, a University of Cincinnati professor who specializes in immunology and allergies, sperm allergy affects many women. If is actually not rare.
If you notice burning, hives, and a slight redness every time you and your partner hit the sack; it could mean that you are allergic to his semen. This could really affect your sexual life, and it may be the reason why you are having difficulty conceiving. In worst cases, semen allergy can cause breathing difficulties or anaphylaxis, and for some sufferers discomfort, and pain.
Don’t fret! There are available treatments that can soothe the allergic reaction. However, if you have severe reactions, doctors suggest that to prevent them from happening, intrauterine insemination can be done using sperm with its semen proteins washed off.
What about your sex life? Well, you might need to ask your partner to wear a condom. Moreover, if you are already pregnant, there is nothing to worry about. Fertility specialist, Dr. Jennifer Eaton, tells that once you are pregnant, it is extremely rare for a semen allergy to cause miscarriage. Even if you are already treating your allergies and taking regular medications (whether homeopathic, over-the-counter, or prescription), it is always best to consult with your physician. Check if they are safe to use when you are trying to conceive and during your pregnancy.
Sources: Romper.com, Webmd.com, Fitpregnancy.com, Theadventurouswriter.com, Natural-fertility-info.com, Health.com, Whattoexpect.com, Newscientist.com, Parents.com, Fertilityauthority.com, Natural-fertility-prescription.com, Mayoclinic.org