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Fertility Blog

Lifestyle Changes to Increase Fertility

It’s the time of year for healthy resolutions.  Often, our patients ask, “is there anything I can do to make myself healthier, and increase the chance that I will have a baby?”  This post describes some of the recent recommendations from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

  • Smoking – Smoking decreases fertility and can increase the chance of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.  It is also associated with poor growth of the baby, problems with the placenta, and preterm delivery.  Once born, the babies can be at risk for asthma, colic, and obesity.  The use of electronic cigarettes has not been well studied and may cause harm as well.
  • Alcohol use – The studies on alcohol use and fertility are varied.  Drinking more than 1-2/day is probably best avoided.  After ovulation or when pregnancy is known, alcohol use should stop, as there is no known safe amount in pregnancy.
  • Caffeine – Moderate use (1-2 8 oz. cups per day) does not seem to affect fertility.  Higher amounts (3-5 cups/day) may be linked to miscarriage and infertility.
  • Exercise and weight – Regular activity helps overall health.  Women should follow the recommendation to exercise 30 minutes, 5 days per week before and during and after pregnancy.  When your body weight is too high or low, it may be associated with lower fertility, miscarriage or problems in pregnancy.
  • Diet and vitamins – Women should be sure to take a prenatal vitamin with at least 400-800 mcg of folic acid.  There have not been any special diets, such as vegetarian diets, low-fat diets, vitamin-enriched diets, antioxidants, or herbal remedies improve fertility.
  • Review any health issues and medications – It’s a good time to discuss general medical issues with your doctor to make sure your health is as good as possible before you conceive.  Also, check your medications with your doctor to make sure they are safe in pregnancy.

Brooke Rossi, MD