Dr. Human Fatemi
Dr. Barbara Lawrenz
Lifestyle can have profound effects on the reproductive functions of women and men. Lifestyle factors are modifiable habits and ways of life that can greatly influence overall health and well-being, including fertility. Many lifestyle factors such as the age at which to start a family, nutrition, weight, exercise, psychological stress, environmental and occupational exposures and others can have substantial effects on fertility; lifestyle factors such as cigarette smoking, obesity, lack of sun exposure, illicit drug use, alcohol and caffeine consumption can negatively influence fertility.
Age is one of the most important factor that can affect fertility. Fertility peaks and then decreases over time in both, men and women.This fertility decline is much more apparent in females than in males. Often, due to different reasons like familiar, social or profession-related issues it is difficult to decide for the ideal time to start a family.
Eating a healthy and varied diet is a key part of maintaining good overall health. However, there are certain vitamins and food groups that could have a greater impacts on reproductive health than others.
Aspects of diet that may have an impact on fertility:
Body weight can have significant effects on health, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and infertility. Overweight and obesity leads in men and women to a reduced frequency of intercourse, to reduced semen quality and to irregular cycles up to no periods at all and anovulation. Moreover, the endometrial receptivity in women is also directly related to the body weight.
Hence, also an extremely low weight in females lead to irregular cycles or even to a total stop of the period bleeding.
A healthy amount of exercise can be beneficial. Diet combined with exercise in obese male has been shown to increase sperm number and motility (movement) and to improve sperm morphology (shape).
Tobacco smoking has been linked to reduced fertilityin both, men and women.
In men smoking increases the risk for erectile dysfunction, decreased sperm quality with lower counts (number of sperm) and motility (sperm’s ability to move) and increased numbers of abnormally shaped.
Female smokers may be affected by chemicals (nicotine, carbon monoxide) found in cigarette smoke which speed up the loss rate of the eggs, impaired quality of the eggs and if they get pregnant, they have a higher risk for pregnancy complication and a higher risk for having a baby with a low birth weight.
Avoid excessive amount of alcohol drinks, as heavy alcohol drinks may decrease the production of testosterone, increase the rate at which testosterone is cleared from the bloodstream, and increase a man’s estrogen levels. All of this can cause a lower testosterone level, which can harm sperm production and also the ability to have intercourse.
Women who drink large amounts of alcohol have a higher chance of experiencing infertility. According to research, it may affect hormonal fluctuations including increase estrogen levels, which reduce Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and suppress ovulation, however many mechanism are still unknown.
To protect your fertility, consider limiting the amount of caffeine in the diet. Some research suggests that too much caffeine might increase estrogen production or decreased estrogen metabolism. However, none of these is conclusive, and more research is needed.
Some men use anabolic steroids for muscular body training and to decrease body fat. The use of those steroids harm male fertility by interfering with the hormone signals that are needed to produce sperm. The damage may depend on the dose and how long the man takes them, however, most men recover sperm production 3-12 months after they stop taking the anabolic steroids.
Air pollution, exposure to heavy metal such as lead, mercury, boron and aluminum and exposure to pesticides and other chemical may have various damaging effects on the reproductive health of both men and women. Moreover, exposure to various kinds and amounts of radiation can have lasting effects in humans. The damage done depends on the age of the patient and dose and ultimately can result in permanent sterility.
Other factor such as type of clothing a man chooses to wear, may have effects on reproductive health. Avoid wearing tight jeans, bicycle shorts, or leather pants that hold the testicles close against the body because the temperature may rise. If temperature within the testicles is elevated by only two, three or four Fahrenheit, both sperm and testosterone production are negatively affected. This may also happen if you wear under shorts made of nylon or other artificial fibers, even if they’re not tight. In addition, spending time in hot tubs, Jacuzzis and saunas and taking long, hot showers or baths also overheat the sperm cells and may significantly impair sperm function.
Lifestyle factors have the potential to impact fertility. It is important to understand the ways in which lifestyle behaviors may benefit or harm fertility in order to minimize complications and to maximize fertility outcomes. By understanding the impact of lifestyle on reproductive health, and by actively modifying lifestyle behaviors, men and women are capable of controlling their own fertility potential.
More information about lifestyle will be discussed in the outpatient clinic, please book an appointment with us.
One of the B vitamins, Folic acid has been found to be linked to inferlity. Commonly used as a dietary supplement, Folic acid is an artificial form of folate. Folic acid supplementation has been shown to increase folate concentrations and decrease concentrations of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood.
The World Health Organization recommends that women should take a daily supplement of 400 micrograms of folic acid while they are trying to conceive and should continue taking this dose for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, when the embryo’s spine is developing.
Folate occurs naturally in foods that are dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and lettuce, okra, asparagus, dried beans, peas, mushrooms, meat such as beef liver and kidney, orange juice and tomato juice.
Many foods are now fortified with folic acid including enriched breads, cereals, flours, corn meals, pastas, rice and other grain products. Fortified means that the vitamins have been added to the food.
For most people, it is safe to take Folic acid. When consumed in the recommended amount each day, i.e. 400 mcg, any person is unlikely to experience any side-effects. But, if taken in higher doses it causes a range of side-effects which may include - abdominal cramps, diarrhea, rash, sleep disorder, irritability, confusion, nausea, stomach upset, skin reactions, gas and other side effects.
The body needs folic acid when cells are growing and dividing very quickly. This happens during pregnancy as the uterus (womb) expands, the placenta develops, the body circulates more blood, and the fetus grows. Because of this folic acid is important for a healthy pregnancy.
Folic acid is very important for the development of a healthy embryo, as it can significantly reduce the risk of neural tube defects (such as spina bifida), a serious condition in which the brain and spinal cord do not form normally in the baby. A woman has increased risk if the partner has a neural tube defect, if the previous pregnancy was affected by neural tube defect and if there is family history of neural tube defect.
Women at risk of risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect are advised to take 5mg of folic acid whilst trying to conceive and until the 12th week of pregnancy.
To learn more about folic acid and pregnancy, kindly book an appointment with our specialist. We will be happy to talk to you.
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