The role of lifestyle in infertility

Low vitamin DThough most people know their health can have an impact on their fertility, many do not realise that some lifestyle factors may also play a role.

Therefore, whether you’re having trouble conceiving or have only just started trying for a baby, you should know about the role your lifestyle can play in infertility. Things like diet and nutrition, alcohol and smoking, your weight, and activities all may have a direct impact on your fertility. In addition, the truth is, these choices affect both men and women.

Some lifestyle choices that may affect your fertility

  • no alcohol iconAlcohol. Having a glass or two of wine won’t have a big impact on your fertility, but you should limit the amount of alcohol you consume. Heavy drinking has been linked to an increased risk of ovulation disorders in women and poor sperm quality in men.
  • Smoking. As most people already know, smoking is harmful to overall health but many don’t realise it also affects fertility. Smoking has major adverse effects on both egg and sperm quality, but that’s not all. It also lowers sperm count, pregnancy rate and increases sperm DNA fragmentation, which can lead to miscarriage.
  • Weight. Being either overweight or underweight can decrease the fertility of both men and women. Men with a high body mass index (BMI) tend to have a lower sperm count and reduced sperm quality. Women with a high BMI are at greater risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and caesarean delivery.
  • Diet. What you eat – or don’t eat – can also play a role in fertility. For example, women trying to conceive shouldn’t have a high protein diet because excessive protein has been linked to decreased fertility. It has also been found that 25% of women in their childbearing years have a vitamin D deficiency, which has also been linked to lowered fertility.
  • Caffeine. Though the evidence is not completely convincing, some research suggests that too much caffeine can reduce fertility, especially in women. A cup of coffee or two a day won’t do much harm, but it is advisable to avoid excessive caffeine consumption.
  • Exercise. Staying fit through regular exercise is an importance aspect of a healthy lifestyle; however, when it comes to fertility it can be too much of a good thing. Extremely vigorous and frequent physical activity can lead to a lower sperm count and reduced ovulation, or lack thereof.

no smoking iconSo, what’s the best advice? There are many lifestyle choices that couples can make to increase their chances of conceiving a baby. Ideally, such modifications should be made when first trying to conceive but it is never too late to make healthier choices – and healthier choices not only mean a better chance of becoming parents, but also increase the likelihood of enjoying a longer and healthier life.