Eating healthy can help optimize your fertility. Diet recommendations such as a Mediterranean diet and a high consumption of whole grains, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oils, vegetables, fruits, and fish which has been associated with improved fertility in women and higher semen quality in men. Male fertility may also be aided by antioxidants like vitamin C, E, Folic Acid, selenium and zinc, which can reduce sperm damage.
The following vitamins and nutrients are also recommended for women:
Exercise performed at different intensities and frequencies has varying effects on fertility. Exercise recommendations also vary depending on each patient’s case. Extreme exercise may lead to anovulation and subsequent infertility, whereas regular exercise may result in improved ovulation and fertility in anovulatory obese patients.
It has been shown that smoking and even secondary smoke can have a huge impact on fertility in women and men. Women are born with a finite number of eggs, which means that the eggs are exposed to everything the woman is exposed to throughout her lifetime. Cigarette smoke contains toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can damage the DNA of the eggs. When the eggs are damaged, it can negatively affect the chances of falling pregnant, as well as hinder IVF outcomes.
Smoking seems to cause a reduction in many sperm parameters including sperm concentration and morphology (shape of the sperm). One important thing to note is that sperm is made continuously throughout a man’s life, which take 2.5-3 months to mature. This means that if a man quits smoking, his sperm parameters should return to the same levels as a non-smoker after that time period, provided that any long term smoking hasn’t caused any permanent damage.
The risk of infertility is highest among individuals at the lower and higher ends of the BMI distribution. Women classified as having recommended weight (BMI 20 –25), a higher risk of ovulatory disorder infertility was observed for women classified as underweight (BMI < 20) and for women with obesity (BMI>29).
It is therefore recommended that women who are overweight or obese lose weight and women who are underweight should gain weight to improve fertility.
Obesity in men may be associated with changes in testosterone levels and other hormones important for reproduction. Low sperm counts and low sperm motility are more prevalent in overweight and obese men than in normal-weight men.
PCOS is a very common condition in women. Not all women with PCOS are overweight or obese, but many women with PCOS have signs of insulin resistance or are obese. A low-calorie diet and exercise may lead to weight loss, improving menstrual cycles, and possibly promoting ovulation.
However, women with PCOS may require additional treatment, such as medication to assist them in falling pregnant. These women should seek the assistance of an infertility specialist or endocrinologist.
Uncontrolled diabetes can affect the ability for couples to fall pregnant. Diabetes can cause women’s menstrual cycle to either be irregular or absent. Diabetes can cause erectile problems and lower testosterone levels in men. Diabetes can also affect sperm parameters. However, diabetes can be managed by controlling blood sugar levels, which involves frequent monitoring of blood sugar levels and medication if needed. Patients can do the following to help increase their chances at pregnancy: this involves regular monitoring of blood sugar levels, eating a healthy diet, regular physical activity, being in the healthy weight range, reducing stress and anxiety, and quitting smoking.