When you’re thinking about getting pregnant, you need to think about a healthy lifestyle for both you and your partner. Here are three reasons why.
- A healthier lifestyle improves your fertility.
- If you adopt a healthy lifestyle now, you can continue it once pregnancy is underway. A guy can support mom-to-be by following the same healthy eating and lifestyle habits
- A healthy lifestyle is also important for children of all ages. The younger the child, the more he is affected by things like secondhand smoke and an unhealthy diet.
Below are healthy lifestyle tips to improve fertility–some for dad wanna be’s and some for mom wanna be’s.
Kicking the habit is THE most important change you can make to improve your fertility and the health of your unborn child. For men, smoking impacts almost every aspect sperm quality. In one study, only 6 out of 100 male smokers had normal sperm. Smoking also increases DNA damage in sperm. Women who smoke also decrease their fertility due to changes in hormones effects on the ovaries and uterus. Smoking while pregnant may even affect the fertility of the next generation, according to this study.
Marijuana has become mainstream. In fact, three more states (CA, NV, MA) have just voted to legalize recreational marijuana. However, pot is still a drug and it does affect fertility (and is even more dangerous during pregnancy). In men, the cannabinoids from pot have been reported to reduce testosterone and decrease sperm production and motility. For women, using marijuana can negatively impact hormonal regulation. Marijuana and its cannabinoids can affect placental and fetal development, and may even cause stillbirth. #Pot is legal in 3 more states: steer clear if you are #tryingtoconceive or #pregnant. #TTC #fertility Click To Tweet
Eating a smart carb-rich diet with plenty of fruits and veggies can improve sperm quality. (So you may want to rethink paleo if you are trying to get pregnant.) Antioxidants such as vitamin C, both from food and supplements, have been shown to improve sperm quality. For women, diet strongly affects ovulation. Eating a Mediterranean style diet with less trans and saturated fat, as well as a diet that avoids high glycemic index foods reduces the risk of ovulatory infertility. For more specifics, read my post about Eating for Fertility. #TTC? Some surprising ways #lifestyle can affect your #fertility in this post. bit.ly/2f95d4t #fertilityproject Click To Tweet
Steer Clear of the Chemicals
Every day we come into contact with hundreds of chemicals–what we breathe from air pollution, herbicides or second-hand smoke. You can also absorb chemicals through the skin from from cleaning and beauty products and walking barefoot on grass that had herbicides applied. Many of the chemicals we come into contact with are Endocrine Disruptors or EDs. EDs act like hormones in the body and can change normal hormone activity as well as mimic hormones. Endocrine disruptors are believed to have negative effects on both male and female fertility. So become an avid label reader for anything you put on your body (lotion, sunscreen, deodorant, makeup) and any chemicals you use around the house or in the garden. In general, things that have fragrance, contain phthaltes, a type of endocrine disruptor. See this post for information about safe pest control during pregnancy.
Become the Designated Driver
If you drink, it’s wise to cut back or stop altogether when trying to conceive. Alcohol appears to have a dose effect on fertility. For men to have plenty of well-shaped sperm that are good swimmers, it’s important to keep alcohol to a minimum. Heavy drinkers and alcoholics are more likely to have abnormal sperm. Women who had hangovers were more likely to be infertile than those who didn’t. Drinking to excess is linked to infertility. Alcohol affects a woman’s fertility in many ways. It decreases conception rate, causes ovulation problems and other issues related to hormone fluctuations.
Lose Weight if Needed
This goes for both men and women. Men considered obese are three times more likely to have reduced sperm quality compared to men who aren’t. Overweight men are more likely to have reduced sperm concentration, motility and an increase in sperm DNA damage. For women, body fat (either too much or not enough) affects hormones, which affect ovulation. The rate of miscarriage is also higher for women who are obese. See my post here for tips on healthy weight loss. And check this post for a full discussion about weight and fertility.
Being active is important. But–moderation is key for exercise to positively affect fertility. While exercising three times a week is great– moderately active men had better sperm shape, number and concentration than competitive and elite athletes. Men who bicycled 5 hours a week are more likely to have a decreased sperm count and concentration. For women, increasing frequency, intensity, duration was linked with an increasing risk of infertility.
Watch What’s In Your Pocket
While the evidence is far from conclusive, some studies show that Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Waves (RF-EMWs) from cell phones may have a negative effect on sperm. Phones carried in the pocket may negative effects on sperm count, motility, viability, shape and size. Increasing oxidative stress is also thought to be caused by RF-EMWs, and the damage to sperm appears to increase with increasing cell phone use. There may be other long-term effects of cell-phone use. So, the World Health Organization recommends using a hands-free device and using a cell phone in an area of good reception to reduce power usage. While trying to conceive, it’s best for dads to avoid carrying a phone in the pants-pocket.
Research shows that chewing tobacco can affect fertility similarly to that of cigarette smoke—and the effect is dose dependent. In fact, men who chewed more than 6 times a day were 14 times more likely to have some semen samples containing no sperm compared to those who chewed less than three times a day.
A healthy lifestyle includes time to relax. When you’re trying to conceive, this may be easier said than done! Stress is linked with male infertility, but it’s not known if it’s the cause or the effect of infertility. Feeling stressed, whether it be work-related, a life event or social stress, is linked to decreased count and quality of sperm. Stress and depression are thought to reduce testosterone and luteinizing hormone and ultimately sperm production. We’re not sure if depression causes low testosterone, or if low testosterone can cause depression. For women, stress hormones may affect fertility. Positive moods are correlated with increased chances of delivering a live baby while higher levels of anxiety increase the chance of stillbirth.
Take Control of Diabetes
Men with type 2 diabetes have been shown to have a lower level of testosterone and a higher level of DNA fragmentation in their sperm, which can affect fertility. Insulin resistance is also known to reduce testosterone levels.
Is your body ready for a baby? Take the Pre-Pregnancy Quiz!
Want to learn more about diet and fertility? Check out my other posts from the #fertilityproject!