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Fertility and Your Lifestyle

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 17 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Fertility Fertile Lifestyle Men Women

Your fertility can be affected by a wide range of things, including numerous lifestyle factors. This applies to both men and women and although some are more obvious, others are things you’d probably never even think twice about! So, if you’re keen to preserve your fertility and up your chances of having a baby, read on to discover how you could be affecting your fertility and what you can do to stop this.

Diet and Nutrition

A poor diet can affect the fertility of both men and women, but eating healthily can have a positive impact. The ideal situation is one where you consume a wide variety of low-fat foods packed with healthy nutrients, so that you’re getting a good array of essential vitamins and minerals. Foods rich in antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, are particularly good as they play important roles in fertility.

For example, these vitamins can boost sperm count, improve the motility of sperm and make them better swimmers. And if you’re trying for a baby, it’s good for women to take folic acid supplements. An added reason to eat healthily is that being a healthy body weight can boost your fertility (either partner being underweight or overweight can cause problems).


Smoking can affect the fertility of both men and women. In men, smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day has been linked to lower sperm quality and production, but smoking any number of cigarettes can also cause abnormal sperm problems. Women who smoke run the risk of developing cervical and tube problems, abnormal menstrual cycles and, when they do get pregnant, ectopic pregnancy. To prevent problems, the best solution is to not smoke.


If you enjoy drinking alcohol regularly, you may need to think again if you’re keen to preserve your fertility, as alcohol has been shown to affect it for both men and women. In the case of men, it decreases sperm quality and quantity, affects testicular size, sperm production, the ability to get erections and the ability to ejaculate.

Women’s fertility doesn’t fare well with alcohol either, as regularly drinking can affect menstrual cycles, making them irregular, increase the risk of having a miscarriage and of a baby being born with birth defects. Occasional drinks are fine, but it’s worth avoiding heavy or regular drinking if you want to up your fertility chances.


The temperature you’re exposed to probably isn’t something you immediately relate to fertility, but for men especially, it should be a concern. In order to function properly and remain in prime condition, a man’s testicles need to be at a cool temperature. The ideal is a couple of degrees below the normal body temperature. If they regularly get hot, it can affect sperm count, sperm formation and the movement of sperm.

To keep testicles cool and avoid overheating, it’s helpful to avoid using hot saunas and hot tubs, avoid wearing tight jeans and wear boxers rather than briefs, as they let the testicles hang loose. The best temperature is 34.5 – 36C.

Bicycle Seats

Another issue, especially for men, is the impact of bicycle seats. One side-effect often caused by a lot of cycling is impotence and research has shown that it’s due to the pressure put on the groin area from the seat, which can damage arteries and nerves. In fact, if you cycle for more than three hours a time, it increases the risk of having problems with erections.

Whilst it’s not necessary to abandon cycling completely, it is advisable to re-consider your bicycle seat and change narrow seats for wider padded seat. If you’re riding for long periods, have regular breaks and try and lift yourself off the seat for a while.

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