Infertility problems are on the rise, as almost the 20% of Greek couples fail to have a baby. Even though over the last decades, technology has helped many young couples to have a baby, diet and lifestyle are among the first and most important modifiable factors that can improve fertility by up to 69%. Which are the factors that improve fertility in men and women?
Healthy weight and fertility
Weight significantly affects fertility. Both very low and excess body weight adversely affect the ability to get pregnant. According to studies, low body weight and excess body weight are responsible for 15% and 25% of cases of ovulatory infertility, respectively. Overweight men have lower testosterone levels, which further affects the function and quality of the sperm. The reason is that fat is involved in the production of certain hormones involved in fertility.
Proper and balanced diet, rich in antioxidants
Diet is the cornerstone of health and, of course, of fertility. A diet rich in antioxidants helps reduce oxidative damage caused by free radicals and reduces the quality of sperm and ovum. Increased intake of saturated and trans fatty acids is associated with insulin resistance and ovulatory infertility. In addition, soy products and high animal protein consumption should be avoided as they have been linked to infertility. Instead, you should increase the intake of fruits and vegetables and emphasize on different colors and variety.
Water and hydration
Respectively important to the quality of nutrition is hydration. Lack of water leads to dehydration, which decreases the density of the mucus and thus the ability of the sperm to reach the ovum. Many times thirst is satisfied with the consumption of other carbonated beverages, which have a negative impact on fertility.
Excessive alcohol consumption can reduce fertility by up to 50%. Observational studies showed that consumption of more than 8 portions of alcohol in a week was associated with infertility and abortion in women, as well as decreased sperm motility in men. The results for moderate alcohol consumption are uncertain. For this reason, it is advisable to limit or to avoid alcohol if you want to increase your chances of becoming pregnant.
Caffeine has been associated with female and male infertility. In particular, increased caffeine intake reduces the chances of successful conception, while increases the chances of abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy. Similarly, caffeine intake in men was negatively associated with the count and motility of sperm. Beware of caffeinated beverages such as teas, soft drinks, chocolate, etc.
Cigarette and tobacco products are toxic, reduce the functional capacity of the ova and semen, increase the number of cases of miscarriage and cause cellular DNA damage. The chances of conception seem to decrease even in the case of in vitro fertilization as also in the children themselves since the conception is successful. Increased intake of antioxidants is recommended to offset the negative effects of smoking.
Exercise and fertility
Exercise, in addition to its multiple health benefits, has a positive effect even on fertility. People with sedentary lifestyles have fewer chances of having a baby compared to more active people. Each exercise hour per day of medium-high intensity was associated with a reduction in infertility risk of 5%, although an exercise of very high intensity was negatively associated with fertility.
Anxiety and fertility
Stress is negatively related even to fertility due to its effect on the levels of certain hormones. According to studies, a large proportion of women (30%) who resort to in vitro fertilization are characterized by anxiety and/or depression.
Relaxation – sleep
Lack of sleep or even reduced quality of sleep affect levels and secretion of many hormones (eg cortisol, leptin, etc.) which are involved in fertility and menstrual cycle. In addition, lack of sleep has been associated with increased levels of anxiety and nervousness as well as increased likelihood of miscarriage.
Supplements and fertility
Taking food supplements for fertility seems to be of great help in conception. Studies have shown that multivitamin supplements reduced the incidence of ovarian infertility by 20%, even when taken several times a week. In addition, women who took multivitamin supplements had 41% lower risk of infertility.
In conclusion, balanced nutrition and lifestyle are vital to overall health and fertility.