13 Things That Can Make You Less Likely To Get Pregnant

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When you were a teenager, you probably spent a lot of time worrying about how to avoid getting pregnant. But, now that you're older, and you think you may actually want to have a child, it's important to know about these factors that decrease your chances of getting pregnant. Of course, if you don't want to get pregnant at the moment, these factors are important to know about as well — even though they don't mean you won't get pregnant now or in the future. It's always best to connect with your doctor about your individual fertility concerns, whether you're trying to conceive or not.

Glamour noted that, "What really matters most, according to women's health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D., is when you're ovulating, your age (and his as well, at least to up your chances of a healthy baby), your smoking habits, and his sperm count." Again, though, everyone is different, and these factors are by no means gospel. Pregnancy happens to people old and young, whether they're smokers or not, but there are certain things that are linked to making it easier to get pregnant. If you're ready to try, consider talking to your doctor about these things that may be decreasing your chances of pregnancy.


Chemical-Based Cleaning Products

What you've got lurking in your bathroom or under your kitchen sink can have a negative effect on your chances of getting pregnant. According to, "Exposure to pollutants, pesticides, and industrial compounds can decrease a couple's ability to have children by up to 29 percent."

Consider going all natural with your cleaning routine. You can easily make an all-purpose cleaner from white vinegar and essential oils. You wouldn't want chemicals around a baby once they're born, so why have them around when you're trying to create one?



I know better than anyone how hard it is to quit smoking. "Smoking cigarettes — even secondhand smoke — has been shown to reduce fertility time and time again," Dr. Zev Rosenwaks, director of the Cohen-Perelman Center for Reproductive Medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, told Forbes.

And, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, smoking accounts for up to 13 percent of all infertility cases, reported. Smoking has also been reported to reduce sperm count, so you should both quit smoking together if you want to increase your chances of conception.


Too Much Exercise

While exercise is good for you, too much exercise can decrease your chances of conceiving. "If you're exercising too much it can have a negative impact on ovulation," Dr. William Schlaff told

"The most obvious sign of a potential problem is a change in menstrual cycle. If you notice that your period becomes lighter or shorter, you should talk to your doctor about the implications for your fertility and your health," Dr. Schlaff said.



Stress is hard to avoid, and obviously you need to live your life, but how you manage your stress is something to be aware of. "Certain tricks are especially beneficial for women dealing with trying-to-conceive-related stress," Robert A. Greene, MD, coauthor of Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility told Parents magazine.

Greene recommends six things to reduce baby-making stress, including going to sleep earlier, having sex for reasons other than trying to conceive (to take the pressure off), doing relaxation exercising, journaling, talking to a therapist, and yoga and meditation.


How Your Partner Uses Their Computer

If you've ever used a laptop computer on your lap ,then you know it can get pretty hot, which, as it turns out, is not great for sperm count. A study in the Fertility and Sterility noted that prolonged exposure to a wireless internet-connected laptop decreased sperm motility, and speculated that keeping a laptop connected wirelessly to the internet on the lap near the testes may result in decreased male fertility.


Your Partner's Choice Of Underwear

Does your bae wear boxers or briefs? It's not necessarily just a personal style choice. WebMD reported that boxer shorts, or loose-fitting pants can boost sperm count because it helps ensure that the testes maintain a lower temperature than the rest of the body, which is key for producing sperm. This also means skinny jeans are suspect.

"That is why [testes] are located outside of the body," Celia E. Dominguez, reproductive endocrinologist, Center for Reproductive Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine, told WebMD. "Testes were made to be out in the breeze."


Your Partner's Hot-Tub Habits

This one surprised me. Research published in the Brazilian Society of Urology found that men who are repeatedly exposed to high water temperatures through hot tubs, Jacuzzis, or hot baths can become infertile.

“It has been believed for decades that wet heat exposure is bad for fertility, as an old wives’ tale, but this effect has rarely been documented,” Paul J. Turek, MD, lead investigator who is a professor in the UCSF Department of Urology and director of the UCSF Male Reproductive Health Center, told UCSF News. “We now have actual evidence to show patients that these recreational activities are a real risk factor for male infertility.”

Before you panic, the study advised that ceasing hot-tub time can reverse the problem if the person lives an otherwise healthy life (no smoking, etc.). "Treat your body like a temple: Eat well, sleep well and take good care of yourself," Turek advised.


Your Birth Control History

Birth control is one of the best ways to prevent unwanted pregnancy, but not all birth control options are the same. If you are on an injectable birth control, it could be more difficult to get pregnant, even after you go off of it. Most injectables stop ovulation, and thicken cervical mucous to prevent sperm from passing through. Even after you stop getting injections, you might not start ovulating right away.

"Because of the long lag time between ending treatments and restoration of fertility, Depo-Provera is not recommended for women who are thinking of becoming pregnant within two years," the New York Times reported. If you're planning to get pregnant in the next few years, it might be best to talk to your doctor about getting off of your injectable birth control.


Prescription Medications

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Some prescriptions medications can affect your fertility. "There are certain medications, particularly certain antidepressants and mood stabilizers, that can affect your ability to conceive by making your body produce more prolactin, a hormone that interferes with ovulation," ob-gyn Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor at the Yale School of Medicine, told Women's Health.

Do not stop taking your medications before talking to a doctor because you could put your health at risk, but if you're concerned that you're not conceiving because of a medication you're be taking it's important to discuss options with a medical professional.



Ashley Batz / Bustle

While lubricants can make time with your partner more enjoyable, some lubes can kill sperm. A study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that many of the most popular brands can make getting pregnant more challenging because they actually destroy sperm. If you're not trying to get pregnant, then lube up (on top of your regularly scheduled contraceptive)! If you are trying to conceive, try an all natural option instead like coconut oil.


Your Exposure To Phthalates

Never heard of phthalates? You're not alone. Phthalates are synthetic chemicals used in plastics and some cosmetics, and prolonged exposure to them can affect your ability to conceive, according to a study presented recently at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. These chemicals can disrupt both you and your partner's fertility, which is just one more reason to go all natural with your beauty routine.

"You can limit your exposure by avoiding cosmetics that list dibutylphthalate (DBP), dimethylphthalate (DMP), and diethylphthalate (DEP) as ingredients and steering clear of anything scented (the FDA doesn't require individual fragrance ingredients to be listed on packaging, although phthalates are often used to make the scent last longer)," Women's Health reported.



When you have sex to conceive matters. If you want to track your menstrual cycle to identify your most fertile days (or for any other reason), Dot, created by Cycle Technologies, can help. Developed in collaboration with global health experts, Dot gives you actionable information that empowers you to effectively plan or prevent pregnancy. There are lots of menstrual cycle trackers that can help you figure out when the best time to conceive will be for your body.

These 13 factors that affect your fertility by no means affect everyone the same way across the board, so you should check in with your doctor about what you can do to improve your chances of conceiving (if that's what you want to do).