How Lifestyle Affects Your Fertility: 8 lifestyle factors that affect fertility
The lifestyle choices that you make daily have a considerable impact on your reproductive health and fertility. Although there is no ‘one solution fits all approach to fertility, there are specific changes that, when implemented, can have a positive impact on your overall reproductive health.
This post will break down how making a few alterations to your lifestyle can improve your chances of conception.
Plastic vs. Glass Food Storage Containers
One of the most damaging things in synthetic plastic bottles and Tupperware is certain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Some of the most commonly used EDCs include Bisphenol A (BPA), parabens, pesticides, phthalates, and sulphates. BPA is perhaps the most widely known of these EDCs.
These chemicals disrupt the hormonal balance of the body by mimicking certain hormones. As you can imagine, these chemicals can have a huge impact on your reproductive health and, consequently, on your fertility.
There is ample scientific evidence that the hormonal imbalances caused due to these EDCs can lead to irregular ovulation and even problems in pregnancy. Some studies also reveal that these chemicals are possibly linked to polycystic ovarian syndrome, fibroids, and endometriosis.
That said, it is virtually impossible to reduce your exposure to these EDCs to zero as these chemicals have found their way in many products that we use daily. Experts recommend taking active steps to reduce exposure to these chemicals by taking few preventive measures. A few things you can do to limit your exposure to EDCs include avoiding microwaving food in plastic containers and opting for glass containers instead of plastic ones while storing the leftovers.
Prenatal vitamins with folic acid
Folate is one of the most important prenatal vitamins that prevent congenital disabilities such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Folate is commonly found in green leafy veggies, liver, eggs, and Brussel’s sprouts. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 400 micrograms of folate supplementation at least a month before you conceive. Doing this ensures that your body has enough reserves of folate to carry out a healthy pregnancy to term.
According to a study, low folate levels have been linked to higher incidences of miscarriages as well. The Swedish research analyzed the cause of miscarriages between six and twelve weeks of gestation in 468 women. Folate deficiency was linked to being the cause of miscarriage in 50% of the women in the test group.
The link between weight and fertility
There is enough scientific evidence to link bodyweight to successful conception. Being underweight as well as overweight can negatively impact your chances of getting pregnant. If you are underweight, your hypothalamus, a vital part of your endocrine system, becomes sluggish. It can lead to hormonal imbalance that can cause you to have irregular and missed periods. If you are overweight, your body tends to produce more estrogen than normal, negatively impacting your fertility and chances of conception.
Although it is considered normal to gain or lose weight as you grow older (gaining about half a kilo to 1kilogram every year is normal for most people), gaining too much might impact your chances of getting pregnant.
Avoid or better quit smoking.
Smoking is not a good habit whether you are trying to get pregnant or not. However, quitting smoking can be especially difficult for some individuals. The chemicals in cigarette smoke like nicotine, polycyclic hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide are known to accelerate your body’s natural speed of losing eggs. The same chemicals also hurt the quality of the remaining eggs. It has been proven in many studies that women who smoke tend to have menopause earlier than women who don’t smoke.
Smoking can also cause reproductive health issues in men. The chemicals in tobacco are known to reduce the motility of the sperm, their ability to fertilize the eggs, and their morphology.
Once you stop smoking, the ill effects on your reproductive health begin to reverse. If you need help in quitting smoking, there are a lot of resources available for you. Talk to our doctor if you are finding it especially difficult to quit smoking.
Get tested for STIs
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are more common than many of us might think. The worst thing about STIs is that many men and women with active STIs are asymptomatic and might not even know that they are spreading them. If you are trying to conceive, ensure that you are getting tested for STIs before even trying.
The two most common STIs, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) if left untreated. The organs affect in PID, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and cervix are directly involved in conception. PID can cause damage to your Fallopian tubes that can lead to infertility.
STIs such as herpes and HPV are often asymptomatic. Hence, you and your partner must get tested for them regularly. The key in managing STIs and minimizing their impact on your fertility is early detection and prompt medical intervention.
Insulin resistance and its effect on fertility
Insulin is a crucial hormone in your body that regulates your glucose metabolism. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the cells of your body become resistant to insulin. If you have insulin resistance, your body’s cells are incapable of absorbing glucose from the blood, and the glucose level in the blood shoots up.
The effect of insulin resistance on your reproductive organs can be detrimental to your fertility. It can block the ovarian follicles from maturing, interfere with the synthesis and release of luteinizing hormone and produce excess androgens in your body.
If you have a polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) diagnosis, you stand a higher risk of developing insulin resistance. According to some studies, 70% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance. That said, PCOS itself does not cause insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is a treatable condition. Alteration of your lifestyle, including exercise and having proper nutrition, can help reverse insulin resistance.
Stress & Reproductive Health.
Stress is never a good thing to have. It can negatively impact your mental and physical health, and your reproductive system is certainly not immune to it. Although the relationship between stress and fertility is still in its infancy, some scientific studies link them. We have covered the impact of stress on fertility and conception in one of our blogs (Does Stress Actually Affect Fertility?)
When it comes to fertility, stress can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, stress can reduce our fertility, and on the other, having fertility issues can build up stress. It is a vicious cycle that can be difficult to get over. It can be challenging to manage stress independently, and you can always seek professional help to manage it better.
Coffee, alcohol & effects on your fertility
Caffeine is a chemical that affects your body in more ways than one. The Mayo Clinic advises limiting your coffee intake to about 1-2 cups a day. When it comes to alcohol consumption, the limit is even stringent. According to many studies, alcohol must be avoided if you are trying to get pregnant, especially after conception.
It’s important to remember is that both alcohol and caffeine can harm your reproductive health. So, be mindful when you consume these drinks and find a workaround that suits you the best.
lifestyle & Fertility Final words
Your lifestyle choices can hugely impact your reproductive health and, consequently, your ability to conceive. If making small changes can help, then those changes should be made right away. Although it can be difficult to implement these changes right away, easing into them, changing one thing at a time can help you develop a healthy lifestyle.