4 Lifestyle Habits That Can Weaken Fertility

Apr 02, 2023
4 Lifestyle Habits That Can Weaken Fertility
There are many factors at play when it comes to infertility. Some risk factors are out of your control, but certain lifestyle habits can weaken your fertility. Read on to uncover four lifestyle habits that decrease fertility and what to do instead.

If you’re considering starting a family, you likely have a lot on your mind. You might be wondering when is the right time to stop your current contraceptive method. Or, maybe you’re wondering if you should make any lifestyle changes. 

Many lifestyle habits can weaken your fertility inadvertently. But the important takeaway is that lifestyle habits are within your control. They are modifiable habits, meaning you can identify any habits that weaken your fertility and modify them.

In this article, board-certified OB/GYN Karen Allsup, FACOG, MD, and our Aurora OB/GYN team highlight four lifestyle habits that can weaken fertility.

Habit #1: Skipping the gym

Missing the occasional workout is one thing, but over time, a lack of physical activity can take a toll on your fertility. According to a 2019 article, sedentary lifestyles and a lack of activity can weaken fertility in both men and women.

On the flip side, regular exercise can help boost your fertility by:

  • Helping you maintain a healthy weight (excess weight can also affect your fertility)
  • Balance your hormones
  • Improve insulin (which can also affect fertility)
  • Reduce stress  

Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. That’s only about 30 minutes of exercise five days of the week.

Habit #2: Eating junk food

While processed food may be convenient, it can affect your fertility, especially if your diet contributes to obesity or diabetes, which can make it harder to conceive. Diets high in processed food tend to be low in folate, and low folate levels can affect fertility. 

Instead, focus on plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, 100% whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. Fruit intake is vital. Researchers noted that women who ate fruit 3-4 times per day were less likely to struggle with infertility, while women who ate fruit 1-3 times per month were more likely to struggle with infertility. 

Habit #3: Smoking and illicit drug use

Both smoking and drug use weaken fertility in both men and women. Smoking cigarettes contributes to hormonal imbalances, and in men, smoking can damage sperm. In women, smoking can increase your risk of miscarriage once you do conceive.

If you already smoke, consider quitting before trying to grow your family. If you need help quitting, talk to Dr. Allsup. You can also explore resources provided by the Texas Department of State Services.

Habit #4: Avoiding stress management

Infertility and stress have a complex relationship. Infertility can be frustrating and stressful, but stress can also contribute to infertility. If you’re ready to grow your family, it’s never too early to start managing stress. Thankfully, there are many strategies to lower cortisol and reduce stress:

  • Exercise 
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Guided muscle relaxation
  • Reading
  • Listening to calming music
  • Practicing deep breathing

Managing stress can help improve your odds of conceiving. When comparing a group of women who were stressed, 55% of the stressed women who went through a mind-body program to reduce stress were able to get pregnant. That’s in stark contrast to the women who didn’t manage their stress. Only 20% of women from that group conceived.

While stress isn’t the only factor in infertility, the important point to take away is that if you are struggling, stress management can help strengthen your fertility.

When lifestyle habits alone aren’t enough…

Lifestyle habits can either strengthen or weaken your fertility, but not all causes of fertility are related to lifestyle factors. As an experienced obstetrician, Dr. Allsup and our team understand just how complex infertility can be, but know that we’re here to help on your journey.

To explore your fertility options, call us at 210-547-4700 or use our online form to schedule your appointment.