Yoga mat
Yoga mats might be reducing one's chances of getting pregnant, study finds. In this photo, a woman practices yoga at the India stand during the International Tourism Trade Fair FITUR at Ifema in Madrid, Spain, Jan. 20, 2016. Getty Images/ Carlos Alvarez

If you're a woman who likes to stay in shape, a yoga or exercise mat might be one of the indispensable items of your daily life. However, it might also be reducing your chances of conceiving a child as the flame-retardant chemicals used on them could make you infertile, according to a study.

The study conducted by Harvard researchers was published in Environmental Health Perspectives in August 2017.

It found that women with higher urinary concentrations of organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs) had reduced likelihood of getting pregnant using In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

PFRs are a group of chemicals that are used in yoga mats, sofas, car seats, and other types of furniture made of polyurethane foam in order to make them heat-resistant, and hence less flammable.

The study analyzed urine samples from 211 women undergoing IVF at Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center, Boston, Massachusetts, between 2005 and 2015.

On checking the women's urine samples for metabolites of PFRs, the researchers found that 87 percent had bis (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate, 94 percent had diphenyl phosphate (DPHP), and 80 percent had isopropylphenyl phenyl phosphate (ip-PPP) in them.

The women with higher concentrations of DPHP and ip-PPP were 10 percent less likely to achieve fertilization; experience 31 percent reduction in successful embryo implantation; 41 percent possible decrease in achieving pregnancy; and were 38 percent less likely to deliver a healthy newborn than those with lower concentrations, the study found.

Dr. Courtney Carignan, one of the researchers, said: “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.”

Though this is the first study to try and establish a connection between PFRs and impact on prospective mothers, and was limited to samples collected from a specific location, Russ Hauser, Frederick Lee Hisaw professor of reproductive physiology and acting chair for the Department of Environmental Health, said there was enough evidence to suggest that women who are looking to conceive should stay away from objects that have PFR chemicals in them.

"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," Hauser said in a news release.

This means that one could opt for more “organic” and “eco-friendly” yoga mats, but that would mean being extremely careful and not leaving them out in the hot sun, as they might catch fire, Forbes reported. However, that does not guarantee that one would be able to avoid PFR chemicals altogether, as they are also used in furniture.

An earlier study published in the journal Endocrine Disruptors noted that men who come in contact with PFR chemicals on a daily basis could risk having decreased sperm motility.