When you’re having trouble getting pregnant, it’s easy to feel like you’re all alone. But actually, it’s a fairly common problem: In the United States, up to 19% of women of childbearing age have difficulty conceiving.
One reason why infertility is so common is that so many issues can interfere with conception. Some of those factors are related to medical issues, like diabetes, uterine fibroids, or problems with your ovaries or fallopian tubes. For men, infertility can be related to poor sperm production, impaired sperm motility, or issues with ejaculation.
But medical issues are just part of the story. Lifestyle factors can play a role, too. The good news here is that in most cases, lifestyle factors are things you can control.
Knowing what factors influence fertility is the first step in managing them. As a top-ranked OB/GYN in Conroe, Texas, Dr. Richard Roberts helps patients at OB/GYN Associates of Conroe understand their lifestyle risk factors so they can take steps to improve them. If you’re trying to conceive or you plan on conceiving in the near future, here are nine lifestyle factors you should know about.
Excess weight can wreak havoc with your hormones, including the hormones involved in conception and pregnancy. For men, obesity has been linked with problems with erectile function and sperm production.
Most people know smoking is bad for a developing fetus, but it can interfere with conception, too. Smoking can harm the reproductive system, and it may also interfere with hormone production and function. In men, smoking can harm the DNA in their sperm.
Good nutrition is important for fertility in both women and men. In men, better nutrition improves sperm production and function. For women, the link is less clear, but data show that watching what you eat can have a beneficial effect on ovulation. For both genders, focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and a moderate amount of protein is best.
Lead paint, pesticides, dry cleaning products — all of these and many common household products contain toxins that can interfere with fertility.
Drinking alcohol has also been associated with fertility problems, although researchers aren’t clear how the two are related. What they do know is that in men, too much alcohol can reduce sperm production and motility. In women, excessive alcohol consumption can interfere with ovulation and negatively affect hormone levels, too.
Stress management isn't easy, but it’s essential if you’re trying to get pregnant. High levels of physical stress — for instance, working extra-long hours — have been linked with a longer time to conceive for women. For men, excessive psychological stress and anxiety can impair sperm production and quality.
STDs cause infections that can spread to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other parts of your reproductive system, interfering with fertility and, in some cases, preventing pregnancy in the future. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two common causes of infertility, but other STDs can interfere with conception, too. If you’re sexually active, regular testing is critical, and so is practicing safe sex.
Regular physical activity is important for overall health, which in turn could increase your chances of getting pregnant. But overdoing it — exercising to excess — can wind up making it harder to conceive. These effects are especially pronounced in women, where too much exercise can interfere with ovulation and menstrual cycles.
The night shift can come with a couple of attractive perks, like fewer bosses to deal with and, in many cases, a lucrative bump in pay. But it also messes up your body’s natural clock, which in turn can disrupt your hormones, making conception more difficult.
If you’ve been trying unsuccessfully for months to get pregnant, we can help. To learn more about the causes of infertility and what treatments are available to help you conceive, call 936-756-7788 or book an appointment online with the team at OB/GYN Associates of Conroe today.