November 6, 2020
9 Lifestyle Factors That Affect Fertility
Is your lifestyle affecting your fertility?
We are all aware that factors of our lifestyle affect numerous parts of our daily lives, but when was the last time you thought “how can my lifestyle affect my fertility?”
Never – Like many, starting a family isn’t an immediate priority – but do you want children in the future? Fertility is a long-term concern. Knowing how your lifestyle can impact your fertility today, can help you when it comes to preparing to conceive in the future. It might only be a simple tweak or a change. Having a healthy lifestyle will benefit both you and your baby.
Occasionally – You are probably planning to start a family in the distant future.
Daily – You are probably planning or actively trying to start a family.
Although it isn’t everything, many lifestyle factors including smoking, alcohol, BMI, certain drugs, caffeine consumption, nutrition and stress can impact your current and future fertility. This said, it should however be remembered that every individual is unique and different…and so is their fertility.
Fertility treatment is therefore not a one-size-fits-all approach. There are choices that any individual can make, to aid a healthy lifestyle and indirectly promote male and female fertility. It also takes two to tango (oocytes and spermatozoon that is), so when considering how lifestyle factors can impact on your chances of conception, all parties need to be taken into consideration.
Lifestyle Factors That Impact Fertility:
Smoking, be it first or second-hand smoke, can negatively impact each step of the reproductive process for both men and women. Cadmium and cotinine are two specific toxins found in tobacco smoke which can reduce sperm quality and egg production (including AMH levels). Other impacts of smoking on fertility include increased sperm DNA damage, reduced fertilisation and development potential, culminating in lower pregnancy rates.
Smoking other substances can also negatively impact fertility.
For information and help to quit smoking, please check out the services available in your local area.
If you’re trying to conceive, the advice is not to drink alcohol at all.
If you want to reduce or stop your alcohol consumption, please contact your GP. You can also find more information at:
For both men and women, a higher or a very low BMI can impact fertility. To qualify as a private fertility patient, your BMI should be no more than 35 and no more than 30, to be accepted as an NHS funded fertility patient.
Check your BMI here.
A higher BMI can impact hormonal imbalances, pregnancy risks and the amount of drugs needed for fertility treatments, in females and sperm numbers in males.
As lifestyle and fertility are connected, eating a wide variety of healthy foods is advised when trying to conceive. Eating foods, including fruits and vegetables, with antioxidant properties, are likely to be beneficial for protecting against oxidative stress, something which can be harmful to both eggs and sperm. Be mindful when consuming junk food, it should ideally be avoided. Switching from trans fats (e.g. margarine and hydrogenated vegetable oils) for unsaturated fats (e.g. oily fish and nuts) is also advised.
Although irrelevant for most people, regular and intense exercise regimes can impact male and female fertility. Regular, moderate exercise is however proven to aid various body functions, including reproduction.
When exercising, do be mindful of taking any supplementary drugs, substances, tight underwear and your exposure to excessive heat sources (e.g. hot baths or saunas). Do seek advice from The Fertility Partnership if you are concerned that your exercise regime or occupation could be impacting your fertility.
Wondering where to start when it comes to vitamins? We’ve broken down the key vitamins and supplements of interest for your fertility and all can be bought over the counter at your local chemist, in supermarkets and health stores.
For female fertility, the beneficial supplements and vitamins list evolves throughout the fertility journey. Pre-pregnancy, folic acid and ‘well-woman’ vitamin supplements including antioxidants, Omega 3, zinc and selenium are advised. Adding in a Vitamin D (10µg/day) supplement after conception is beneficial to both a developing baby and its mother.
Taking 400 micrograms (400 µg) of folic acid to supplement your diet, pre-pregnancy and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, has been found to reduce the risk of developmental abnormalities.
Individual vitamins and ‘well-man’ vitamin supplements can also be helpful for male fertility, particularly in the case of lower sperm function. Key ones to look out for include antioxidants, Omega 3, zinc and selenium.
Whether it’s a one-off prescription or over-the-counter medication which you take regularly, please do consult the pharmacist, information leaflets and labels to establish the impact of your medication on your fertility. When you’re trying to have a baby, there are some everyday medications that are not advised.
It is a myth! Contraception itself, be it the pill, IUS, IUD, Injection, ring or implant, cannot make you infertile. Doctors, Pharmacists and Nurses actively avoid causing harm, therefore they would not prescribe contraception that had the ability to make you infertile.
If you are interested in finding out more about your fertility after the discontinuation of contraception, please contact us.
There are no ifs or buts about it…fertility is an emotional rollercoaster. It is essential that you take time to acknowledge that the stress, strains and anxiety that come with trying to conceive can’t always be avoided (even with the best intentions). We strongly advise prioritising your overall health and well-being (physical and mental) when looking to conceive and whilst undergoing fertility treatment.
Patients often find establishing a strong, support network is useful for discussing their thoughts and feelings. Integrating counselling into your fertility journey can also help individuals and couples, by allowing them the opportunity to confidentially explore any feelings and distress they are experiencing.
It’s all relative…
Yes, lifestyle factors can impact both an individual and couple’s and individual chances of conceiving…but it is all relative and, in some cases, it may be less or more than you think.
Remember you and your fertility are unique, look for fact, not fiction and there is support out there.
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