There are a number of lifestyle factors that impact significantly on fertility - these should be considered when preparing for conception.
Stress is a fact of life for most of our busy population. What many of us don't realise is the negative impact this has on all aspects of health, including fertility. Stress can affect fertility in men and women by interfering with processes such as the production of hormones involved in ovulation, implantation and sperm quality.
Alcohol can interfere with sperm production and egg quality, along with many other negative health impacts. Once pregnancy is achieved, and this may not be confirmed until 4 - 6 weeks in some cases, any alcohol consumed will also pass through the mother's bloodstream into the placenta, increasing risk of damage or danger to the baby.
Cigarette smoking is harmful to your health and will do no favours for you, or your unborn child. Smoking has been linked to reduced fertility in men and women, reducing sperm quality and function, as well as affecting hormone development and follicular function. It is also associated with a higher incidence of miscarriage and stillbirth.
Drug use, and some prescription medication, can impair fertility, by interfering with hormone synthesis, spermatogenesis and egg production.
Caffeine, particularly high intakes of coffee and other caffeinated beverages, can also impact upon fertility due to the exacerbation of hormonal imbalances and inflammation.
Being underweight or overweight can interfere with fertility - as this may impact upon ovulation, hormone function and sperm production. Beginning a pregnancy overweight can also predispose a woman to pregnancy-related disorders such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia.
Exercise - It is important to remain active and fit both before and during pregnancy. The body is placed under considerable strain upon conception and the healthier it is, the better it will respond to the experience of pregnancy and birth.
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