Building a Healthy Lifestyle to Enhance Fertility

Over recent times, there has been a growing interest in the impact of lifestyle factors on fertility. It is crucial to consider these factors when attempting to conceive. Certain habits, such as smoking, drug use, and excessive alcohol and caffeine intake, can have adverse effects on fertility. Conversely, other habits, such as healthy and regular exercise, can improve fertility. Furthermore, the age at which conception occurs, environmental pollution, and occupational exposure can significantly impact fertility.

 It is, therefore, imperative to consider these and other related factors when planning for successful conception.

As we age, fertility declines. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, and with advancing age, the quantity and quality of those eggs decrease. Beyond the age of 35, known as Advanced Maternal Age, there is a higher risk of reproductive problems. Advanced Paternal Age has no clear definition. Men experience a decline in sperm quality and quantity and lower testosterone levels as they age. Unfortunately, we cannot stop or reverse the aging process. Awareness of the risks associated with advancing age can help with better family planning.

Impact of diet, nutrition, and exercise:

A healthy diet with appropriate calorie and nutrient balance is paramount for promoting optimal physical and mental health. It serves to prevent a wide array of diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and select types of cancer, while maintaining fertility. A balanced diet comprising ample vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fish, an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, is encouraged. However, it is advised to avoid consuming fish with high levels of mercury. In contrast, consuming processed meats, high-fat foods, trans fats, packaged foods, and soft drinks is discouraged as it negatively impacts fertility in both men and women. Notably, a healthy diet before conception may positively influence fetal well-being, rendering the early stages of pregnancy critical for embryo and fetal development.

Regular exercise:

It positively impacts overall health and well-being and can help prevent lifestyle diseases such as obesity, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Couples trying to conceive are advised to adopt a healthy lifestyle, which includes a nutritious diet and regular exercise, to obtain the health benefits that come with it and improve their fertility.

Body weight:

It is closely associated with dietary choices and levels of physical activity. Body mass index (BMI) is a reliable measure of body weight, with a BMI below 18.5 indicating underweight and an average BMI ranging from 18.5 to 24.9. Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for overall health and can impact the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and infertility.

Studies indicate that overweight and obese men are more likely to have low sperm counts than their normal-weight counterparts. Male obesity has been linked to lower testosterone levels, which can result in reduced sperm production, sex drive, and erectile dysfunction. Obesity can also hurt female fertility. Excess weight can cause an imbalance in hormones responsible for regulating ovulation. Obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are often interrelated and can lead to fertility issues. Obese women are also at an increased risk of complications during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and premature delivery.

Smoking and drugs:

Smoking is harmful to health and can cause a long list of problems. It can harm sperm count, motility, and morphology and lead to oxidative stress and DNA damage. Smoking also damages ovaries, causes hormonal imbalances, and can harm fallopian tubes, leading to infertility and ectopic pregnancy. Marijuana and cocaine can harm male and female fertility and increase the risk of complications during pregnancy.

Alcohol:

Studies suggest that there is a link between alcohol consumption and infertility, but the exact amount of alcohol that can increase the risk is not yet well defined. In men, excessive drinking can result in reduced testosterone production, impotence, testicular atrophy, and decreased sperm production. For women who are trying to conceive, it is recommended that they limit their alcohol intake or avoid it altogether. This can help to reduce the probability of experiencing fertility issues and increase the chances of a healthy pregnancy and a successful outcome.

Caffeine:

Caffeine is commonly found in beverages such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolates. While moderate caffeine intake is unlikely to impact fertility in most women negatively, excessive consumption may increase the duration of pregnancy and potentially elevate the risk of infertility. It is advisable that women who are attempting to conceive restrict their daily caffeine intake to approximately one cup of coffee.

Stress:

Stress is a common aspect of modern life that can significantly impact fertility. The diagnosis of infertility, as well as the various treatments to overcome it, can also be a source of stress. The testing, procedures, treatments, failures, familial and social expectations, unmet desires, and associated financial burdens can all contribute to stress. There is no clear consensus on how to define and measure psychological stress, and it is difficult to determine whether stress is a cause or an effect of infertility and ART treatment. Fertility is an emotional journey with its ups and downs, and it is essential to recognize that the stress, pressure, and anxiety associated with trying to conceive are often inevitable. Therefore, it is advised to prioritize your overall health and well-being (both physical and mental) while trying to conceive and undergoing fertility treatment. Building a solid support system can also be helpful.

Environmental pollution and occupational exposures:

Studies have suggested that reproductive health is declining in industrialized regions. Poor semen quality and oocyte failure are causing an increase in infertility and the need for ART. This is due to various environmental pollutants released through manufacturing and agricultural processes. Air pollution has a detrimental effect on all aspects of health, including fertility. Diesel exhaust particles contain PAHs and heavy metals with endocrine disrupter activity. NO2, O3, or PM can generate ROS, causing alterations in DNA, proteins, and membrane lipids. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are hormone-hijacking chemicals that mimic and antagonize the actions of endogenous hormones. EDCs are present in water bottles, food packaging, electronic devices, personal care products, cleaning supplies, and many other everyday items, like phthalates. The critical endocrine disruption that impairs fertility is the loss of blood sugar control, which manifests clinically as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, abdominal obesity, and PCOS.

It has been established that exposure to pesticides, chemicals, or X-rays in occupational settings can hurt fertility. Mainly, research indicates that exposure to chemicals such as PCBs and DDT tends to affect fertility and increase the likelihood of miscarriage adversely. Moreover, consumption of contaminated food and groundwater has also been shown to heighten the risks of infertility and miscarriage. Nonetheless, further research is required to comprehend the extent of pollution’s impact on fertility fully. It is, therefore, imperative to be mindful of potential hazards and take measures to minimize exposure to pollutants.

In conclusion, an individual’s fertility can be considerably impacted by their chosen lifestyle. Though the implementation of lifestyle modifications does not guarantee success in overcoming infertility, it can enhance overall health and augment the chances of conception. Seeking the advice of our fertility specialists at 9M in Hyderabad, Pune, and Bhubaneswar and adopting wholesome lifestyle choices can be advantageous for anyone who desires to enhance their reproductive health.

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9M Fertility

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