Parkridge Medical Group April 20, 2015

Thinking about starting a family? To mark National Infertility Awareness Week, let’s take a look at a few simple things that can impact your fertility.

You probably realize that age affects fertility, but did you know your lifestyle can also impact your chances of conceiving? The following factors can negatively influence fertility:

  1. Smoking—People who smoke are less likely to conceive. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, men are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction and may have a lower sperm count if they smoke. Smoking can also affect the quality of a woman’s eggs.
  2. Weight—Women who maintain a healthy weight are most likely to conceive. Being either underweight or overweight can interfere with ovulation.
  3. Stress—According to a review article published in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, several studies have linked stress and infertility. Men who are under significant stress may have a lower sperm count, while women may be less likely to conceive if they are struggling with anxiety and depression or are working long hours. Managing stress through counseling, exercise, journaling, meditation or simply talking to your partner about your fears and concerns may improve your pregnancy chances.
  4. Diet—Both men and women who are trying to start a family should practice moderation when it comes to drinking alcohol and consuming caffeine. High amounts of either can negatively impact fertility. Further, eating a balanced diet featuring foods high in folate, a nutrient that helps prevent birth defects in early pregnancy, is especially important for women. Those planning to become pregnant need at least 400 micrograms of folate per day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Could It Be Infertility?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infertility should be investigated if a couple fails to conceive after a year of trying.

Both men and women can contribute to infertility, so it’s important for both partners to see an infertility specialist and get evaluated. Depending on the cause of infertility, treatment options including medications, surgery and artificial reproductive therapies, such as in vitro fertilization, can boost your pregnancy odds.

To find a physician who can help you weigh your fertility options, visit