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Everyday Things That Affect Fertility

Friday 28 August 2020
Infertility

Table of Contents


I. Diet

a. Foods

b. Drinks

c. Vitamins and Supplements

II. Exercise

III. Sleep

IV. Smoking

V. Stress


Infertility is very common in the United States and around the world. In America, infertility affects over 6 million women aged between 15 and 44. [1] Infertility is the inability to become pregnant despite having frequent unprotected sex for over a year. For women who are aged 35 or over, six months of frequent unprotected sex is defined as infertility. Impaired fecundity is a term that includes women who have difficulty getting pregnant as well as difficulty carrying a pregnancy to term.

Sometimes, prescription medications may be used to help with fertility. Clomid (clomiphene) is a common medication used to treat ovulation problems. Other medications such as Menopur can help women’s body to produce multiple eggs.

Becoming pregnant is a difficult process and there are many possible causes of infertility. Keep reading to learn about everyday things that can affect fertility.

Diet

What you eat and drink can have a major effect on fertility. Diet and lifestyle changes may help boost fertility by up to 69 percent. [2] Getting to or maintaining a healthy weight can be important for fertility. Women who are overweight or underweight are more likely to take more than a year to become pregnant. For women who are not a healthy weight and are struggling to become pregnant, a dietician may help to change their diet to put on or to lose weight.[3]

a. Foods

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of female infertility. PCOS affects ovulation by causing a hormone imbalance. [4] Research shows that eating more calories at breakfast may lessen the symptoms and improve the hormonal effects of PCOS. However, as you will read below, being overweight can also be a factor in infertility. Therefore, eating a bigger and higher calorie breakfast should coincide with eating a smaller and lower-calorie dinner. [5]

A range of jars with nuts and seeds spilling out

It is important to eat healthily while trying to become pregnant. Following a low-carb diet can help improve hormone levels and can improve fertility. Following a lower-carb diet is usually recommended for women who have PCOS. [6] As well as eating fewer carbohydrates, it may also help to lower the number of refined carbs that are eaten. This includes white pasta, rice, and bread. [6]

Another dietary change that may improve fertility levels involves protein. A lot of the body’s protein typically comes from animals via meat, fish, and eggs. Many studies have shown the benefit of replacing animal proteins with vegetable proteins, including beans, nuts, and seeds. [6] There are also dairy changes that can improve fertility. Replacing low-fat dairy products with high-fat alternatives may also help.

b. Drinks

Excess alcohol may increase the risk of infertility. It’s unclear how much alcohol is needed to affect fertility, and it may be different for different women. It is unknown if drinking a low or moderate amount of alcohol affects fertility and the safest option is to avoid drinking any alcohol. [7]

Caffeine may also affect female fertility and impaired fecundity. However, the evidence behind this is not definitive, especially in lower doses. Women may want to limit their caffeine to less than 200mg a day while attempting to get pregnant. [6] [8]

c. Vitamins and Supplements

There are many supplements for both men and women that boost fertility. For some of these supplements, there are other ways of getting the same benefits. For example, getting Omega 3 from fish. However, taking supplements is often more convenient.

Antioxidants can improve fertility in both men and women, but especially men. Antioxidants are molecules that fight compounds known as free radicals in the body. Free radicals are essential for health but could cause serious harm to the body without antioxidants maintaining a certain balance. Antioxidants include vitamin E, vitamin C, and folate. Fruits, vegetables, berries, and nuts are high in antioxidants, although supplements are also available. [6] [9]

Multivitamins can also be beneficial. Women that take multivitamins may have a lower risk of infertility. Other vitamins and supplements that can help include iron supplements and multivitamins. [6]

Exercise

Studies have shown that regular exercise can also boost fertility. Infertility is more common in women that do not lead active lifestyles. Being either underweight or overweight can affect fertility in both men and women. In women, being overweight or obese can cause menstrual disorders, ovulation problems, hormonal imbalances, or PCOS. [3]

However, it is important to exercise in moderation. Research showed that women that did intense exercise every day had a higher risk of infertility than women who had an inactive lifestyle. [10]

A woman doing yoga in a plain white room

Sleep

35 percent of adults in the United States do not get enough sleep regularly. [11] Losing sleep over an extended period can have a direct effect on reproductive hormones and may affect fertility. One of the hormones affected by a lack of sleep is the luteinizing hormone (LH). LH triggers ovulation as a part of the menstrual cycle. [12]

A long-term lack of sleep can also increase the risk of other conditions that can affect fertility. This includes diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Smoking

Infertility rates in both male and female smokers are around twice as high than those in non-smokers. [13] Smoking can damage the fallopian tubes and cervix, which can both cause infertility. Additionally, smoking ages women’s ovaries and depletes their eggs. [8] Smoking also has negative effects on general health and may cause other health conditions that may lead to infertility.

A lit cigarette resting on a wall

If a woman does become pregnant, smoking can also negatively harm the health of a fetus or increase the risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. Quitting smoking can improve fertility and the longer a woman has not smoked, the lower the rate of pregnancy complications due to smoking. However, the loss of eggs caused by smoking is not reversible. [13]

Stress

Stress may also affect fertility. This can become a vicious cycle as trying to become pregnant itself can be very stressful. Managing stress may help to improve fertility. Exercise and sleep are two other everyday things that can affect fertility and stress. Exercising regularly and getting enough sleep is beneficial for fertility already but is also beneficial for relieving stress. Some other common stress relievers include yoga, counseling, and journaling. [14]

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.