A. Healthy weight and BMI
One way to do this is to achieve an optimal weight through exercise and a healthy diet. Obesity and borderline obesity convey many risks to both mother and baby that you can reduce or eliminate with weight loss. Studies show that losing as little as 5 percent of your body weight may increase your chances of pregnancy. Underweight individuals also are predisposed to risk factors that you can remedy with proper nutrition and achieving an optimal weight.
Studies that have compared overweight and obese women with women of normal weight who are using assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments have shown excess weight having negative effects such as:
- Lower pregnancy rates
- Increased miscarriage rate
- Lower rate of a live birth
In addition, because BMI is strongly connected to treatment success, obese women who are undergoing ART may:
- Need higher and longer doses of ovarian stimulation medication
- Have fewer or more immature eggs to retrieve or more cancelled cycles due to an inadequate response
- Experience higher risk of bleeding, damage to surrounding organs, and an anesthesia-related complication during surgery or egg retrieval
Furthermore, a higher BMI can cause problems with pregnancy, such as:
- Gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Cesarean section (also known as a C section)
- Birth defects
HOW DOES WEIGHT IMPACT MALE FERTILITY?
Just like with women who have fertility complications related to BMI, men can experience similar difficulties. If men are overweight, it can affect sperm count and sperm motility (movement). When the male hormones are increased (a result of a higher BMI at a heavier weight), it can impair the man’s ability to make sperm on a regular basis. The natural balance of testosterone and estrogen can be affected, which then may affect the ability to produce sperm. Men who are obese can also experience warming of the scrotum. If the scrotal temperature increases by 1 or 2 percent, it can impact sperm production or survival.
WEIGHT LOSS IMPROVES HEALTH AND OUTCOMES
The good news is, a modest weight loss of 5 to 10 percent can affect a woman’s ability to resume regular ovulation if her inability to conceive is associated with weight alone.
If men are able to achieve a healthier BMI, that, too, can greatly improve their sperm production. Men produce millions of new sperm every day, making it highly beneficial to men who want to alter their lifestyle habits. Sperm takes about 72 days to mature, which means that men who lose weight or make positive lifestyle changes only need to wait about 3 months before seeing improvements in sperm quality—and an increase in their chances of reproductive success.
B. Exercise and physical activity.
Intense physical activity, such as that of competitive female athletes, can disturb the menstrual cycle, but moderate activity has little effect on your cycle.
Obesity is associated with decreased fertility. Weight loss in obese women can improve their fertility. Weight loss can also improve menstrual regularity in obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
C. Quit smoking and other bad habits.
Compared to non-smokers, many smokers can experience up to a 54 percent higher chance that conception will take 1 year or longer. This delay in conception correlates with the daily quantity of cigarettes smoked. Smoking can also increase the rate of follicular depletion and reduce the levels of estrogen in the body.
Fertility treatment is also greatly impacted when the female partner smokes. Studies cite the following as side effects from smoking:
- Decreased response to ovarian stimulation medications
- Decreased number of eggs available for retrieval
- Increased number of cancelled cycles
Studies show that women who smoke experience a delay in conception, up to a 54 percent higher chance that conception will take 1 year or longer compared with nonsmokers. The delay in conception correlates with daily quantity of cigarettes smokes. The more cigarettes smoked, the more chemicals enter your body, increasing the rate of follicular depletion and reducing the estrogen in your body. This is also why smokers reach menopause several years earlier than nonsmokers.
Smoking also contributes to a higher rate of miscarriage. The label says it right on the box—smoking and pregnancy don’t mix. Studies have shown that chromosomal and DNA damage from smoke exposure increase birth defects and miscarriages. In fact, one study done with female smokers 14 to 39 years of age showed smoking accounted for 16 percent of miscarriages.
Quitting smoking and certain risk behaviors such as excessive drinking and use of illegal substances are critical to both minimizing your chances of miscarriage and promoting a healthy pregnancy.
In Men, Smoking cigarettes can cause a decrease in the three main factors that determine a man’s sperm quality: sperm count, morphology (sperm shape), and motility (movement). Studies have shown that damage is not necessarily permanent and may vary by the quantity and length of smoking history. In general, a man’s fertility rate can completely return to normal within 1 year of quitting smoking.
D. Reduce stress.
Reducing stress is desirable while trying to conceive. Finding a way to reduce stress will increase your likelihood of continuing your course of treatment and promote a healthy pregnancy.
E. Undiagnosed and untreated medical conditions.
There are a number of medical conditions that may negatively affect pregnancy, including prediabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, and a low-functioning thyroid gland. It is important to have a physical examination by either a gynecologist or your primary care physician before trying to conceive or beginning fertility treatments. A physician can easily test for and treat conditions before you become pregnant. The result of treatment can greatly improve your fertility, diminish the chance of miscarriage, and promote a healthy pregnancy.
F. Time sexual intercourse for procreation not recreation.
It is advised to have intercourse during the 5 days leading up to ovulation and the day you ovulate. For some, sex every day can be stressful so focus on the last 2 or 3 days of that ovulation window.
G. Get enough sleep.
We all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. About 6 – 8 hours of sleep is enough for an adult.
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