According to Harvard researchers, a component found in yoga mats reduces the chances that women have of getting pregnant. This is due to the organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs), a chemical material found in furniture made of foam that makes them not flammable.

Previous research proved this component also affects hormones involved in the fertility process and embryo/fetus growth of some animals, like zebrafish and chickens. Now, in a study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers concluded that women who are in contact with PFRs also present higher risks of becoming infertile than those who have no contact at all.

A component found in yoga mats reduces the chances that women have of getting pregnant. Image credit: Gaia
A component found in yoga mats reduces the chances that women have of getting pregnant. Image credit: Gaia

Yoga is an Indian activity rooted in over 5000 years ago. It has become popular in the US population, and women represent the 70 percent of practitioners. According to the Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal, around 20.4 million people in the US practiced it in 2012. However, the number has increased by 50 percent, and now there’s a total of 36 million citizens who practice yoga.

Although people only need their own body and a good, peaceful spot, some yoga-practitioners prefer to do it on a mat, which is a soft blanket made of foam, usually as large as an average person.

PFR, a component found in a lot of products that increases the risk of becoming infertile

Another study published in the journal Endocrine Disruptors also found that PFR can decrease the sperm motility in men.

Researchers from Harvard University, Duke University and the University of Michigan, recruited 211 women and analyzed their urine samples at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center, Boston, Massachusetts, between 2005 and 2015.

“These findings suggest that exposure to PFRs may be one of many risk factors for lower reproductive success. They also add to the body of evidence indicating a need to reduce the use of these flame retardants and identify safer alternatives,” said Dr. Courtney Carignan, one of the researchers involved in the study.

The women’s urine evaluated in vitro found that that 87% had bis(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate, 94% had diphenyl phosphate (DPHP), and 80% had isopropyl phenyl phosphate (ip-PPP). The results showed that those who had the highest amounts of DPHP and ip-PPP were 10 percent less likely to achieve fertilization, 31 percent less likely to successfully implant an embryo in their uterus, 41 percent less chances to get pregnant, and a 38 percent less likely to have a live birth, compared with other women who didn’t have the already mentioned components in their urines.

PFR is not only found in yoga mats. There are plenty of furnitures made of polyurethane foam to make them less flammable, such as cars seats, sofas, or even kids’ toys.

According to Frederick Lee Hisaw professor of reproductive physiology and acting chair for the Department of Environmental Health, Russ Hauser, there’s still not enough evidence to assure PFR affects women fertilization.

“Couples undergoing IVF and trying to improve their chances of success by reducing their exposure to environmental chemicals may want to opt for products that are flame-retardant free,” he added.

Source: Environmental Health Perspectives