Infertility Prevention: Can Poor Lifestyle Make You Infertile? 9 Ways To Prevent

A poor lifestyle can cause infertility. Hence, by making appropriate lifestyle changes, you can increase your chances of having a child  

Written by: Shubhangi Shah Updated at: 2021-12-09 14:25

India is home to over 1.3 billion people. However, the prevalence of infertility is also quite high pegged at somewhere between 3.9 to 16.8%. About 15% of couples are dealing with infertility worldwide. This is a staggering number. Infertility affects both men and women with the majority of cases caused by genetic factors, which cannot be treated. Then other biological causes need medical intervention. Another factor, which is often overlooked, which can also cause infertility is a poor lifestyle. Poor diet, a lack of physical activity, smoking, and drinking alcohol, which make you susceptible to numerous diseases, can make you infertile too. However, the good news here is that, unlike other factors that need medical intervention, with making some lifestyle tweaks, you can easily minimise your risk of infertility as far as lifestyle is concerned. And on what lifestyle changes one needs to make, this is what Dr Hrishikesh Pai, Consultant Gynaecologist & Infertility specialist attached to Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital, has to say.

What Is Infertility?

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Before we look at ways to prevent infertility with lifestyle changes, let’s first understand the issue. Infertility refers to the biological inability of a person to contribute to contraception, Dr Pai said. This is when a couple is termed infertile:

  • The couple isn’t able to conceive after 12 months of contraceptive-free intercourse (if the woman is below the age of 34).
  • If the couple isn’t able to conceive after six months of contraceptive-free intercourse (if the woman is above the age of 35).
  • When a woman is unable to carry a pregnancy to full term is also termed infertility.
Also read: Infertility Vs Impotence: Know Difference Between Causes And Treatment Of These Conditions

Lifestyle Changes To Prevent Infertility

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According to Dr Pai, you should make the following lifestyle changes to prevent infertility:

1. Have A Balanced Diet

Nutrition is a big determinant of your overall health, which includes your reproductive health. 

  • Consume a well-balanced diet consisting of ample amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber.
  • Try to get protein from plant sources rather than animals.
  • Combine this with a good amount of fiber and iron, and less trans fat and sugar from carbohydrates.
  • In women, taking multivitamins decreases the relative risk of infertility due to ovulatory disorders.
  • The deficiency of vitamin C, folate, selenium, and zinc can also lead to infertility. Hence, incorporate these well into your diet.

2. Exercise

Just like diet, enough physical activity is also crucial for good health. To reduce your risk of infertility:

  • Exercise regularly. Even a moderate-intensity workout can prevent infertility in both men and women.
  • At the same time, avoid over-exercising as it can cause menstrual disorders in women and issues with sperm production in men.

3. Maintain A Healthy Weight

Excessive weight gain or obesity is another lifestyle factor behind infertility.

  • It lowers sperm count in men due to overheating and in women, it can cause suppression of ovulation.
  • Hence, maintain a healthy body weight, which should be as per your height.
  • And the way to do this is to make the right dietary choices and get ample workouts. 

4. Quit Smoking

Smoking is not just injurious to the lungs, but to your reproductive health as well.

  • In men, it can cause a reduction in sperm production. Not only that, but it also hampers the production of testosterone, which is the male sex hormone, thereby leading to impotence.
  • In women, smoking affects the quality of eggs, thus leading to infertility in the long run. Not only that, but it also causes changes in cervical mucus, which in turn, makes it difficult for sperm to reach the egg, thus preventing contraception.

5. Quit Alcohol

Just like smoking, alcohol consumption is another component of a poor lifestyle. Binge drinking and chronic alcohol abuse affect fertility in both men and women and can make it difficult for them to conceive not just naturally but through infertility treatments as well. 

6. Avoid Certain Drugs

Certain drugs, western, herbal, and recreational, are also known to cause infertility.

  • Consult your doctor before taking any medicine.
  • Recreational drugs such as marijuana and cocaine are linked to low sperm count in men and infertility in women. Hence, it is better to give up on them.
  • Even drugs such as antidepressants, tranquilizers, narcotics, and certain anticancer drugs are linked with infertility. Hence, consult your gynecologist or andrologist when taking these.
  • Crohn's disease, which is a type of inflammatory bowel disease, is treated with a drug named sulfasalazine, which can affect sperm production.
  • Not only that, many hormonal supplements are known to cause infertility.

Hence, whenever you are on such medicines, it’s always better to consult a gynecologist (or andrologist) to slash your risk of infertility.

7. Environmental Toxins

Exposure to environmental toxins can also lead to infertility. Hence, try to stay away or reduce your exposure to environmental poisons such as pesticides, heavy metals, lead, toxic chemicals, and ionizing radiation.

Also read: Are Delayed Marriage & Childbearing Causing Infertility In Indian Women? Doctor Answers

8. Stress

A fast-paced lifestyle is characterised by a lot of stress and a lack of a consistent sleep cycle. It can also have an impact on a person’s fertility. Hence, to reduce your risk:

  • Meditate
  • Do Yoga
  • Adopt relaxation techniques like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.

All these can help alleviate stress and induce better sleep.

9. Regular Health Check-Ups

Regular health check-ups can lead to the early diagnosis of certain diseases that can affect fertility. 

However, if you are not able to conceive over six months or longer, then you must see a doctor. With proper diagnosis, the exact cause can be treated that can increase your chances of having a child.

(With inputs from Dr Hrishikesh Pai, Consultant Gynaecologist & Infertility specialist attached to Mumbai’s  Lilavati Hospital D Y Patil Hospital, Navi Mumbai & Fortis Hospitals in New Delhi, Gurugram & Chandigarh)

Photo Credit: Freepik


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