Infertility can be caused by a real mixture of factors.
If you’re struggling to get pregnant it’s worth investigating whether a few simple lifestyle changes could help. Here we bring you a list of common causes for men and women and ideas for turning things around.
At a glance
- Smoking can affect egg quality
- Severe stress can affect ovulation and sperm production
- A few lifestyle changes can boost your chances of conceiving
Finding the cause
Infertility can be caused by many different things. And for 25% of couples – maddeningly - doctors are never able to pinpoint the cause. Here’s an overview of the most common lifestyle issues that reduce fertility in men and women. The good news is – you can tackle most of these with a few simple lifestyle changes.
Find a healthy weight
Getting you both to a healthy weight will really make a difference. If women have a BMI of 29 or more, (NHS body mass index calculator) or excess oestrogen (a female sex hormone) gets stored in your body fat cells, causing hormone imbalances that reduce ovulation. But the good news is, losing just 5-10 per cent of your body weight can trigger ovulation again. Being underweight is also bad for your fertility – half of women with a BMI of 19 or less suffer from irregular periods.
It’s the same with men too. If they’re overweight, the male hormone testosterone can convert to the female sex hormone oestrogen, reducing the sperm count. And men with a BMI of less than 20 also have lower sperm counts. So it’s best if you can both hit the middle ground.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Several STIs can cause infertility. For example, chlamydia can damage the fallopian tubes in women, and cause swelling and tenderness of the scrotum (the pouch containing the testes) in men. So it’s worth getting checked out.
We know it’s not easy to quit smoking, but it’s worth it. Smoking can affect egg quality and is one of main causes of low birth weight babies. It also brings the menopause forward and damages the ovaries too. Men need to quit too – smoking affects sperm quality and quantity.
Avoid occupational and environmental hazards
Exposure to certain pesticides, metals, and solvents can affect fertility in both men and women - so have a think about ways you can avoid problematic things like this.
If you or your partner are feeling stressed, sex is often the first thing to suffer – which isn’t great when you’re trying to conceive. Having sex two or three times a week is ideal.
Severe stress may also affect female ovulation and limit sperm production. So if either of you is feeling stressed, try and fit in some serious relaxing, take a break to do things you enjoy and exercise - it will all help.
Finding a solution
Identifying the cause can certainly bring you closer to finding a solution. Hopefully a few easy lifestyle changes like these will boost your chances of conceiving. If you’re concerned, have a chat with your doctor, or fertility expert, to see if you think any infertility issues specific to men or women could be causing you problems.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while, fertility treatments help hundreds of couples get pregnant every year.