Can Yoga Mats Cause Infertility?

Dealing with fertility problems can be one of the most stressful experiences for a person or couple, with strict attention to cycles and sometimes even to IVF treatments. The disappointment, the frustration and the despair over everything that could be going wrong are also difficult. Now, researchers have identified a possible culprit in another negative pregnancy test. It turns out that yoga, exercise or pilates mats could hurt your chances of getting pregnant.

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This is due to organophosphorus flame retardants (PFRs), which are found on yoga mats but are common chemicals in all kinds of everyday objects, such as sofas, computer cases, and car seats, according to The. New York Daily News. Harvard researchers discovered these chemicals in 80 percent of women who underwent IVF treatment who studied between 2005 and 2015. The findings the researchers published Friday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives were surprising.

Women with higher concentrations of any of these PFRs were 10% less likely to achieve successful fertilization through IVF, according to a press release. They experienced implantation of embryos 31% than their counterparts with lower concentrations of chemicals in their systems. These women were also less likely to have their baby born alive or surviving the first trimester of pregnancy.

It all sounds pretty scary. Tech Times reported that flame retardants sometimes blend into the base of the products and they may eventually end up like dust off of the foam mattress pad or yoga mat in which they were originally contained. These flame retardants have been known to disrupt the thyroid and sex hormones in animals, according to HuffPost, and it is possible that the same could be happening with humans. That is obviously disturbing for anyone who desperately wants to get pregnant, but who can not.

However, there is hope. Courtney Carignan, an author of the study and environmental epidemiologist, told HuffPost that it might be a good idea to invest in furniture with barrier technology or fabrics such as leather or wool, which are naturally resistant to flames. Getting rid of carpets that may contain PFRs could also be a step in the right direction. Those who may not be able to have new furniture or make other big changes in their homes should wash their hands often.

The researchers chose to study women undergoing IVF so they could track every stage of the process, but believe their findings are also applicable to the general population. This is the first study of its kind to detect the link between PFR and infertility, so more research is in order.

So if you like to do yoga, look closely at the composition of the mats you find and avoid those containing PRFs … not only for your fertility but your overall health.

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