The Effect of Lifestyle on Fertility
September 1, 2010

The Effect of Lifestyle on Fertility

More than 5 million women in the United States have trouble conceiving.

Couples trying to conceive may be encouraged to know that improving their nutrition, recreational habits, and stress levels can decrease their time to pregnancy. Simply choosing a healthier lifestyle can improve their chances.

Women whose diets include greater amounts of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains have been shown to have the highest chances of fertility.

Women who drink more than 6 cups of coffee or tea a day are 1.5 times more likely to be infertile.

Current evidence is inconclusive. However, men who drink over 20 drinks a week have shown a 2-fold increase in the time to pregnancy.

We know many ways smoking (both active and passive), with the nicotine, carbon monoxide, and cyanide, may adversely affect the fertility of both the man and the woman. Women who are heavy smokers (more than15 cigarettes a day) have a 2-fold increase in time to pregnancy above nonsmoking women.

Regular exercise in moderation is important for good health. On the other hand, excessive exercise in women can stop their periods and make them anovulatory. Also, men who sit all day have increased scrotal temperatures which will lower the sperm count and thus decrease fertility.

For different reasons, both underweight and overweight women tend to be less fertile. Surprisingly a majority of obese women can start ovulating again with only a 5%-10% weight loss.

Although it is difficult to clearly define and measure psychologic stress, it has been implicated in lowering reproductive performance.


In general, if couples lead an overall healthy lifestyle, they could increase their fertility by more than 50%. Also, they could create a healthier environment for their future child. We know that smoking and weight issues show conclusive evidence of their negative impact on fertility; the effects of caffeine, alcohol, exercise, and stress during conception are not conclusive.

“The Effect of Lifestyle on Fertility, J. Bosler, MD and H. Wiczyk, MD. The Female Patient. Vol. 35.


SpermCheckFertility test will be available at and in pharmacies for about $25.

The test determines with 95% accuracy if the man’s sperm count meets the normal level of 20,000,000/ml of semen.

(James Hansen, PhD, director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York City.)

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