How Health Affects Fertility
Fertility Doctor Tina Koopersmith
Discusses How Overall Health Affects Fertility
Your overall health may have dramatic implications for your fertility; this is why at West Coast Women’s Reproductive Center, we emphasize treating the whole you. By taking a careful look at health factors including diet, exercise, body weight, response to stress, chemical exposure, caffeine intake, and smoking and alcohol consumption, we can help you make crucial adjustments in those areas that have been proved to affect fertility in order to better your chances at conception.
Your overall health and wellness is significantly impacted by your diet. Here are a few tips for both men and women about what to eat in order to best support fertility.
- For both men and women, a plant-based diet is recommended for better health. However, researchers from Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California have found that men who are vegetarians have significantly poorer sperm concentration and motility than non-vegetarians. For those who eat meat, just increasing the percentage your diet made up of vegetable sources by 5% may increase pregnancy rates.
- Studies have shown that when choosing dairy, whole fat dairy may be helpful in ensuring successful ovulation and fertility in women.
- Healthy fats may be essential to the production of reproductive hormones
Exercise and Stress Reduction
In addition to choosing the right foods, exercise is also important to keep your body healthy and to help all body systems, including your reproductive system, work efficiently. It enables individuals to maintain their weight and also adapt to stress.
Some people are “physical processors” and exercise helps them handle their stress. Others process emotionally, spiritually or psychologically. In these instances, stress reduction may take the form of meditation, music, art, hobbies, journaling, and/or prayer.
Fertility is significantly affected when a woman is either underweight (as a certain amount of body fat is essential for optimal fertility) or overweight. In order to optimize your chances of conception, we’ll first calculate your ideal weight to support your fertility, and then we’ll plan an individualized diet and exercise plan to help you get there – and that will enable you to maintain a more healthy lifestyle overall.
Chemical exposure is another factor that may affect fertility. If you work in a field that entails a high level of exposure to toxins that are related to infertility, we’ll advise you on how to best protect yourself from those harmful chemicals (i.e. by wearing a waterproof gown, a mask or other respiratory protection, goggles or other eyewear, gloves, etc.).
Research suggests that caffeine may play a role in fertility, and both men and should limit their intake while trying to conceive. In some studies, coffee, but not tea, helps with ovulation. Three cups of coffee may be the limit before caffeine intakes starts to affect miscarriage rates and sperm quality. Our recommendation is to reduce or even eliminate using caffeine while you are trying to get pregnant.
Smoking is never a good idea – but it’s especially problematic when trying to conceive. Research shows that smokers typically have a higher risk of infertility as opposed to non-smokers. Additionally, both active and passive smoke can negatively affect fertility and could lead to taking much longer to conceive.
While moderate alcohol consumption has not been shown to affect fertility, excessive drinking has been connected to increased infertility in both women and men. For men, in addition to a lower sperm count, weight gain and a “beer belly” increases glucose levels and decreases testosterone. In women, this weight gain in the abdomen is associated with higher insulin and testosterone levels, which may inhibit ovulation. For your overall health and fertility in particular, we recommend you limit or stop drinking alcohol altogether while trying to conceive.
Together We'll Find A Way
Balancing all of the factors listed above and also doing all you can to limit stress as much as possible will help increase your chances of conception. The more we know about your lifestyle, the more we can help you come up with a plan that best supports your fertility. When you meet with us, be sure to let our fertility specialists know about your personal habits, home and work environment, and diet and fitness regimes.
We look forward to meeting you, learning about you, and helping you to be healthy and happy. To schedule an appointment you can call the West Coast Women's Reproductive Center at (818) 616-9277 or make an appointment online.