How does one prevent infertility?
I think there are some ways that one can try to prevent infertility to a certain extent. We are all well aware that some lifestyle factors can affect both male fertility and female fertility. These lifestyle factors include:
- Alcohol consumption
- Caffeine consumption
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Stress management
Some of these are the factors that one needs to consider when you are trying to conceive or just starting or preparing for a fertility treatment.
Smoking is well known to affect male infertility and female infertility. In men, smoking leads to low sperm count, low motility, low morphology and probably effects the viability of sperms. In women, smoking can result in a reduction of the ovarian reserves and affect the quality of the eggs. Therefore, it is important that if you are smoking you should quit smoking at least three to six months before starting the fertility treatment or if you want to prevent infertility before you start trying to conceive.
Heavy alcohol consumption, as well as binge drinking, can affect both male fertility and female fertility. It can also affect the development of the foetus if you’re pregnant. Therefore, National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends restricting alcohol intake to 1-2 units for women and 3-5 units for men. However many international specialist societies and the current thinking is more steering towards total abstinence of alcohol when you’re trying to conceive or when you’re preparing for your fertility treatment including during the pregnancy if the treatment was successful.
Besides smoking and alcohol excess caffeine consumption is an important factor affecting both male fertility and female infertility. Also, it can also lead to an increased risk of miscarriages. Therefore, it is important to consume caffeine in moderation of potentially total abstinence.
Maintaining a healthy balanced diet with an adequate daily intake of macronutrients, micronutrients, trace elements and minerals is important. For men, it is also important to have a proper intake of natural antioxidants such as zinc, selenium, lycopene, vitamin C and vitamin E. These are all the common diet components that are very important not only for men but even for women to a certain extent.
Maintaining healthy BMI is important. For a woman, we do know that a BMI of more than 35 can affect ovulation as well as it can influence the implantation of the embryo. Therefore, if you suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome or you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS, and you do have a higher BMI, even a five percent loss of weight can correct your menstrual cycle and restore your fertility. This will help you to avoid going through more complex fertility treatments.
Another important thing is looking at stress. Stress can affect both male and female fertility although we don’t have a direct association and link, there are certain studies that are suggesting it takes longer for couples to conceive. So managing stress in different ways is a very important part of the strategy for trying to conceive. As regards men, they should avoid exposure to hot temperatures such as hot baths or tight clothing. By taking these factors into consideration, one can prevent infertility and thus have good preparation for your fertility treatment.