The influence of lifestyle factors on fertility

Is there anything I can do to improve my chances of becoming pregnant?
Unfortunately, there are no miraculous cures improving your chances of becoming pregnant. The most important thing to do while in treatment is to live as normally (and healthily) as possible, ie live as you normally do. We do not recommend alternative infertility treatments and zone therapy, as they may have a negative impact on the fertility treatment. If you would like to try acupuncture, which has a documented effect according to scientific studies, we can offer you this type of treatment at the clinic by a trained acupuncture specialist.

Age and lifestyle
If you are a very young female in your early twenties and have never had inflammatory pelvic disease or irregular menstrual cycles, and if your husband’s sperm quality is normal, your lifestyle will play a minor role compared to, for instance, an older female who has tried to become pregnant for many years and whose husband’s sperm quality is reduced. Lifestyle is thus closely associated with age.

Smoking
If both of you smoke, we strongly recommend that you stop smoking as this improves your pregnancy success rate by up to 30-50% depending on age and the cause of your infertility. Damaging substances in the cigarettes may ruin the hereditary mass in both the eggs and sperm cells. If the female is a smoker, the chances of her egg implanting in the uterus are reduced. The reason is that nicotine affects the blood vessels in the uterus, leading the lining of the uterus to become thinner and consequently not as susceptible to the fertilized eggs. The nicotine also increases oxidation in the liver, whereby the hormones (FSH) are more quickly metabolized and therefore do not have full effect on the ovaries. Sensitivity of FSH in the ovaries is also reduced. Females who stop smoking have the same chances of the egg implanting in the uterus as females who have never smoked.

If the male smokes, the nicotine reduces sperm motility and reduces the number of live sperm cells.

The semen samples of smokers often show a reduced number of live sperm cells after washing, whereas the number of cells in the non-washed semen can be normal. As it is always the washed sperm that is used for both insemination and IVF treatment, this is an important factor.

Nicotine band-aids and sprays have the same effect.

An infertile couple receiving infertility treatment in a private clinic also feel the negative impact by the fact that they have to pay for the treatments themselves, and this may quickly prove very expensive if pregnancy is not achieved within a limited number of treatments.

Alcohol
For females.
Some scientific studies show that even small quantities of alcohol affect women’s fertility, whereas other studies show that it has no influence at all. As long as the results do not agree, we advise women who plan to become pregnant to be careful and stick to less than five glasses of alcohol per week. We do not recommend total abstinence, as it is worth considering the social and thereby the psychological aspects associated with drinking a few glasses of wine with one’s partner or good friends during the weekend. It is important to relax and to feel alive, even though undergoing infertility treatment.

For males
If the male has normal sperm quality, he should not have more than 10 drinks a week and less than 5 drinks a week if he has reduced sperm quality.

Does overweight have any influence on my chances of becoming pregnant?

The reason why many overweight females find it difficult to become pregnant is that their hormone system is affected. Fatty tissues transform a number of hormones that are vital for the female’s menstrual cycle. In cases of obesity, it is not uncommon that the female stops ovulating altogether, or that her menstrual cycles become irregular.

Overweight in connection with infertility treatment results in the ovaries reacting sub-optimally to hormone stimulation, and often, very high dosages of hormone are required to stimulate production of eggs. Overweight may make egg retrieval difficult with the risk of bleeding and infection.

Many scientific studies show that the pregnancy success rates in in vitro fertilization are lower in overweight females than in the females who are normal weight.

Furthermore, overweight also increases the risk of miscarriage, especially early in the pregnancy and an increased risk of high blood pressure, thrombosis of the legs, diabetes and pregnancy toxaemia later in the pregnancy.

The WHO (World Health Organization) definition of overweight:

The organization uses BMI (body mass index) to divide into weight categories.

BMI is calculated in the following manner:

      Weight (kg)        
Height x height (m)

BMI < 20 = underweight
BMI 20-25= normal weight
BMI 25-29= overweight
BMI > 30 obesity

If the female has a BMI>30-35 , we will not commence treatment until the female has been to an extra consultation on the possibility of losing weight. Most often, we will not start treatment before the female has demonstrated a weight loss of approximately 10%.

We have hired a nurse at the clinic who will help you with weight control and dietary instructions. Dietary instructions are also recommended to females suffering from extreme sugar cravings and fatigue. You can help yourself out of this condition by controlling your eating habits. This also applies to females suffering from PCO, where food has a great influence on the degree of symptoms.

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