Never did I imagine the makeover that IVF would have on my life. Having to go through IVF unexpectedly was enough of an adjustment but flipping practically every aspect of how I had lived my entire life inside out was something no one really talks about. You hear about the grueling injections, the emotional roller coaster and possible weight gain. You don’t hear about how the tiniest most unsuspecting of items you use every day could be having a huge impact on your fertility. After my 1st IVF cycle failed, I hit the research hard scouring resources like the EWG website, IVF blogs, and the book “It Starts with the Egg” by Rebecca Fett to uncover things that could be impacting my egg quality and overall fertility. I even went as far as undergoing a thorough blood and urine analysis to find out which toxins I had exposed myself to. Looking back over the things I have had to switch out on my IVF journey in hopes of reducing as many environmental toxins as possible (of course, in addition to my dietary changes and added supplements), I started making this list of all the changes I made to hopefully help others in the same situation give their IVF cycle the best chance of success:
“Obstacles are a detour in the right direction” – Gabrielle Bernstein
- Water bottles: Switched from BPA-free plastic to be extra cautious to stainless steel (HydroFlask) and glass (BKR)
- Tupperware: switched to all glass (Pyrex)
- Pots & Pans: switched from non-stick to stainless steel (All-Clad)… no more cooking shortcuts
- Measuring Cup: switched to all glass (Pyrex)
- Sandwich Bags: switched from plastic Tupperware & sandwich bags to either glass/silicone Tupperware (Pyrex ordered from Crate & Barrel) or non-toxic bags (Whole Foods 365 Double Zipper Storage Bags – these don’t contain PVC, phthalate or BPA)
- Straws: switched to paper straws or no straw at all
- Coffee Mugs: switched to double-insulated glass mugs from Amazon
- Cups: no more disposable Starbucks cups with plastic lids or plastic cups… switched to glass or ceramic only
- Coffee Maker: got rid of the plastic heating Keurig pod machine I had been using religiously for a few years due to possible BPA exposure & possible aluminum toxicity in the coffee pods and changed it for a Brim automatic pour-over machine, which has no BPA in its plastic parts. If I had more time, I would be even more cautious and switch to a glass French Press or old-school glass pour over like Chemex.
- Utensils: stopped using any plastic take out utensils and waited to use my own stainless steel silverware when I got home.
- Kitchen sponge: switched to a plant-based sponge (Whole Foods)
- Dish soap: Dr. Bronner’s, Better Life Dish Soap, Unscented or Honest Dish Soap, Free & Clear
- Hand soap: Dr. Bronner’s, Better Life Natural Hand & Body Soap, Unscented or Whole Foods 365 Free & Clear
- Body soap: Dr. Bronner’s, Ren Clean Skincare Body Wash or Basd Body Wash
- Dishwasher detergent: Better Life Dishwashing Gel, Seventh Generation Plant-Based Dishwasher Pods
- Dishwasher Rinse Aid: Ecos WaveJet Rinse Aid
- Laundry detergent: Dr. Bronner’s, Babyganics 3x Baby Laundry Detergent, Unscented (contains no sulfates unlike most detergents), Better Life Laundry Detergent, Unscented or Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent, Free & Clear (although it’s free of most violators this still contains Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)
- Laundry softener: Better Life Dryer Sheets, Unscented or Seventh Generation Fabric Softener, Free & Clear, Molly’s Suds, Buckaroo Organics
- Bleach: no more bleach! Switched to Whole Foods 365 Oxygen Whitening Powder
- Stain Remover: Better Life Stain & Odor Eliminator, Babyganics Stain Remover or Seventh Generation Laundry Stain Remover – while its ingredients list sulfates, it does not include Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). I also found eCover Plant-Based Stain Remover (bought at Whole Foods) but the ingredients included SLS which is on most dirty lists so I would opt for a better alternative. Another option is Baby Ecos Stain & Odor Remover, which does not include any sulfates in its ingredient list. You can also use this on carpet & upholstery!
- Glass cleaner: Better Life Streak Free Glass Cleaner or Ecos Window Cleaner
- Kitchen Cleaner: Better Life All-Purpose Cleaner, Unscented or Ecos All-Purpose Cleaner
- Floor Cleaner: Better Life Floor Cleaner, Dr. Bronner’s
- Cleaning Wipes: Seventh Generation Multi-Purpose Wipes in Garden Mint
- Hand Wipes: Babyganics Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizing Wipes
- Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Whole Foods 365 Toilet Bowl Cleaner in Lemon Zest (non-toxic, plant-based) or Better Life Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- Bathroom spray: got rid of all air fresheners and switched to using Poopouri or nothing
- Bathroom Cleaner: Honest Multi-Purpose Cleaner, Free & Clear or Better Life All-Purpose Cleaner, Unscented or Ecos All-Purpose Cleaner
- Shower Cleaner: Better Life Tub & Tile Cleaner or Ecos Shower Cleaner
- Shower Curtain: switched from plastic/vinyl even though it claimed to be BPA-free to Restoration Hardware washable cloth shower curtain liner
- Pillows: switched from memory foam to down or down-alternative just in case the foam contained toxic chemicals
Overall, a good rule of thumb is to stick to brands that only make plant-based, non-toxic products such as:
Unfortunately, you may still need to read the labels to identify things like SLS which can fall under a plant-based/mineral-based classification. Always opt for the fragrance-free & dye-free versions of products to help avoid hidden phthalates.
BEAUTY / PERSONAL HYGIENE: now this was the BIG adjustment for me being such a beauty junkie. Check out my blog on what Clean Beauty Products I like the best. Here’s a list of everything I ended up changing:
- Body lotion
- Hair products (Had to change all of them including shampoo, conditioner, leave-in, hairspray, texturing spray, gel, etc)
- Perfume: I’ve stopped using any perfume temporarily since they do not list the contents of their “fragrance” and can be hiding sneaky phthalates
- Face Wash
- Eye Cream
- Lip Balm
- Lip Scrub
- Pads (& Tampons): I stopped using tampons during IVF. However, even using pads, I needed to switch to a brand that was fragrance- and chemical-free like Rael or Organic OB (both ordered from Amazon) or Always Free & Clear (from Target if in a pinch but doesn’t use organic cotton).
- Body Soap
- Nail Polish
- Eyelash Extension Glue
Regardless of whether these changes can or cannot be proven as things that have a positive impact on fertility, they are positive changes for anyone’s lifestyle in general. Whether you or your partner are pregnant, planning to get pregnant, have a baby or just looking for a cleaner lifestyle, removing exposure to as many toxins as possible in our everyday environments is something that our health will thank us for in the future. I’m happy that this journey is what forced me to evaluate everything and opened up my awareness to what I put in, on and around my body. At a minimum, it has made me a more conscious person in general and for that I am grateful!