How are Lifestyle and Fertility Linked?

If you’re struggling with fertility, you probably already know that there’s not always one definitive cause of infertility. Multiple factors may be contributing to your inability to conceive. Some things you can’t control, but there are steps you can take in your daily life to increase your chances of getting pregnant. 


According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), women who are obese and have a high body mass index (BMI) have a lower pregnancy rate than women in the normal weight range. Women who are underweight and have a low BMI are also less likely to have success with IVF. Sometimes obesity is linked to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which makes menstruation irregular and affects fertility. However, women who do not have PCOS and are overweight may also have an irregular menstrual cycle. Being underweight can also affect menstruation. These interruptions in ovulation are caused by hormonal imbalances triggered by BMIs outside of the healthy range.

Weight issues can also have an effect on male fertility. Men who are obese may have lower sperm count and motility. Losing weight has been shown to improve both sperm motility and sperm count. Erectile dysfunction is also common due to the fluctuations in testosterone associated with obesity.


Staying in shape is good for your overall health, and getting the right amount of exercise can have an impact on your fertility. No matter what your BMI is, getting moderate exercise is linked to higher pregnancy rates. But it’s important not to over-exercise. Data has shown that getting daily high-intensity exercise has a negative effect on pregnancy rates because it can lead to menstrual irregularity.


Smoking is bad for overall health and data suggests that it can negatively affect fertility. According to ASRM, infertility rates in both male and female smokers are about twice the rate of infertility found in nonsmokers. Smoking also lowers the success rate for fertility treatments like IVF. Women who smoke need higher doses of medication during ovarian stimulation before egg retrieval. Even with higher doses of medication, IVF pregnancy rates in smokers are 30% lower than nonsmokers. Smoking also increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy. The good news is that if you quit smoking your fertility can improve. To improve your fertility and lifestyle, talk to your doctor or another professional about how to safely and effectively quit smoking.


Drinking a lot of alcohol may increase your likelihood of developing an ovulation disorder. Disruptions in ovulation harm your chances of getting pregnant. If you’re thinking about trying to get pregnant in the near future, you should limit alcohol consumption. If you’re actively trying to get pregnant, it’s best to avoid it altogether. If you do conceive, alcohol may harm the fetus, so if you quit beforehand it’s safer.


Excessive caffeine consumption has been linked to a delay in time to conception. According to the Mayo Clinic, keeping caffeine intake below 200 mg per day can help you avoid this delay. The average 8 oz cup of coffee has around 100 mg of caffeine, but different types of coffee vary. It’s safest to check the caffeine content of any beverage you consume, including coffee, soda, tea, and energy drinks or supplements.

Maternal and Paternal Age

Age, in both women and men, has a big impact on fertility. In fact, a woman’s age is the most important factor that affects fertility. According to ASRM, a woman’s best reproductive years are in her 20s and her fertility gradually declines in her 30s. Paternal age is also a factor, as men’s sperm deteriorates over time. However, this usually doesn’t become a problem until the man is in his 60s.  While you can’t change your age, knowing that it plays such a big role in your fertility can help you make plans in the future.

At Laurel Fertility Care, we are dedicated to helping you build your family. We will work with you to create a treatment plan that works for your individual circumstances. If you have questions about how lifestyle factors can impact fertility, call us at (415) 673-9199 to make an appointment.