Lifestyle Changes That May Boost Fertility
Whether you're thinking about getting pregnant or have already been trying, it's never too early (or too late) to evaluate your lifestyle choices. Starting healthy habits - or getting rid of bad ones - can measurably improve your overall health. And some lifestyle changes may promote fertility in both you and your partner.
Below we've outlined practical recommendations that can help increase fertility among men and women.
How to Improve Male Fertility
Getting pregnant requires healthy sperm, but your sperm may only be as healthy as you are. Here are ways you can help maximize the quality and quantity of sperm your body produces:
- Stop smoking. Men who smoke tend to have lower sperm counts, and the sperm they produce may not be properly formed.
- Lose weight. Research suggests that obesity affects male fertility in many ways. Excess weight can cause hormone changes that reduce fertility. It is also linked to lower sperm counts and sperm that don't move quickly enough. Understanding Body Weight and Fertility
- Reduce your alcohol consumption. An occasional beer or glass of wine isn't likely to harm sperm production. But frequent drinking can lower testosterone levels, reduce sperm count and cause erectile dysfunction.
- Don't take drugs. There are many well-known reasons to avoid illegal drug use, but their impact on male fertility is often overlooked. Cocaine and marijuana use can reduce the number and quality of your sperm, and anabolic steroids can shrink your testicles. If you take legal drugs (such as prescription medications or herbal supplements), check with your doctor or a fertility specialist to make sure they don't impact sperm production.
- Practice safe sex. Unprotected sex, especially with multiple partners, increases your chances of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Men infected with an STD such as chlamydia or gonorrhea may experience fertility problems. These include low sperm count, poor sperm movement and sperm DNA fragmentation.
- Don't get overheated. Elevated temperatures, especially around your scrotum, may reduce sperm production. Many doctors recommend you limit your time in hot tubs and saunas. You should also avoid tight-fitting pants and placing your laptop computer directly on your lap during use.
How to Improve Female Fertility
As a woman, you're likely aware that it's important to make healthy lifestyle choices during pregnancy. But you may be less familiar with lifestyle choices that can improve fertility.
Adopting these healthy habits may increase your chances of getting pregnant and help you set the stage for a healthier pregnancy:
- Stop smoking. Some evidence shows that smoking ages the ovaries and decreases your supply of eggs. It also harms your cervix and fallopian tubes and increases your risk of ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can harm your health in several ways, including interfering with your ovulation. But women who are severely underweight are also at increased risk for ovulation problems. Whether you need to lose weight or gain it, aim for a healthy body mass index (BMI) to help maintain normal ovulation. Understanding Body Weight and Fertility
- Reduce your alcohol consumption. It's common knowledge that women shouldn't drink alcohol while pregnant. But you may not be aware that frequent drinking before pregnancy is linked to ovulation disorders. If you're trying to get pregnant, try to avoid alcohol completely.
- Limit your caffeine intake. Scientists still aren't sure how much caffeine is "too much" when it comes to infertility. You don't need to rule out caffeine completely, but try limiting your daily caffeine consumption to 200 mg per day, especially when you're trying to conceive. That's the equivalent of about two, eight-ounce cups of coffee per day.
- Practice safe sex. Having unprotected sex, especially with multiple partners, increases your chances of getting chlamydia, gonorrhea or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). These infections can permanently damage your fallopian tubes and uterus.
Fertility Tips for Both Partners
Together you and your partner are hoping to get pregnant and become parents. And together you can make some lifestyle adjustments that benefit your overall health and wellness as well as your fertility.
Having a supportive partner who helps you tackle your goals may be the key to maintaining healthy lifestyle choices, including:
- Tweak your diet. If your busy schedule has you reaching for packaged snacks and other processed convenience foods, your body may not get the nutrition it needs. Preparing more meals at home and adding more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein to your diet are an easy place to start. Besides nourishing your body, you may shed excess weight and gain energy along the way.
- Acknowledge and manage your stress. None of us can avoid stress. But for some couples, trying to get pregnant can cause extra worry or anxiety, especially if one or both of you has concerns about infertility. If you feel like stress is affecting your health or your relationship, consider talking to a licensed counselor or psychologist who can help you with coping strategies. You may also enjoy trying new activities that can help relieve stress, such as yoga, meditation or massage.
- Bump up your exercise. Moderate physical activity, like taking a walk with your partner after dinner, can do wonders for your health. Regular exercise not only helps promote weight loss and a healthier body, it can help ease stress. But the key word is "moderate" - women who take part in frequent, intense exercise may experience ovulation problems. For that reason, many doctors suggest limiting vigorous activity to no more than five hours per week.
Still Having Trouble Getting Pregnant?
Lifestyle changes alone may not help you get pregnant if you or your partner have a medical condition that affects fertility. If you've tried to get pregnant for more than a year - or if you are a woman over 35 who has tried for more than six months - you may want to consider seeing a doctor for fertility testing.
We also offer a unique couples clinic, which provides simultaneous male and female infertility testing. We'll help you get the answers you need in an efficient and caring manner.
If you have questions about boosting your fertility, or would like schedule an initial appointment with one of our fertility specialists, please call (608) 824-6160 or complete our online form.