You’ve probably heard the same old advice a million times when you are trying for a baby: book a weekend away together, try some relaxing sensual massage, get dressed up and go out together on a ‘date night’. But what you may not have been told is that the cosmetics that help you to look your best could be bad for your fertility.
We live in an age of smudge-resistant lipsticks, anti-ageing face creams and non-chip nail varnish, and as all of these products are designed to help you look and feel better, why would you have any reason to suspect that they might be stopping you from getting pregnant?
But they probably are.
Researchers at Washington University have discovered that a number of harmful chemicals used in cosmetics products such as lipsticks, face and hand creams, body wash and nail varnishes have the potential to bring on the menopause as much as four years earlier than you would normally expect.
The research highlighted phthalates as being among this group, which is significant for the millions of women using consumer products that contain the family of chemicals.
Phthalates are used to soften and improve the flexibility of a number of different plastics, and have been shown to disrupt the balance of the body’s hormones and normal ovarian functions.
Phthalates are often inhaled or absorbed through the skin and have already been recognised as potentially harmful to foetuses during development in the womb, as well as being heavily linked with breast cancer. The impact these chemicals have on fertility has not previously been analysed in any great detail, but these new findings should spark a wave of investigations into the kind of damage that regular exposure to these plastics is doing to our fertility and general health.