15 Factors That Negatively Affect Fertility

1. Physically Demanding Jobs

A Harvard study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that women with physically demanding jobs have a tougher time getting pregnant. Consisting of 500 women seeking fertility treatment, the results showed that those who do heavy lifting at work had 8.8% fewer total eggs and 14.1% fewer mature eggs compared to women who don’t overexert themselves at work.

2. Irregular Shifts

In addition to heavy lifting, irregular shifts also impact fertility, suggests the same Harvard study. Working the late shift or picking up more shifts throughout the week can disrupt circadian rhythm. Women, working outside of the 9-to-5 norm, experienced a 28% reduction in eggs.

3. Stress

Again, work appears to be the culprit. Working in a high-pressured work environment like finance hinders a woman’s ability to conceive. Male-centric work environments also contribute to infertility.

In 2014, a study, consisting of 400 couples, monitored the levels of alpha-amylase – a stress biomarker – among the women over the course of a year. The results, published in Human Reproduction, found that women with high levels of alpha-amylase doubled their risk of infertility compared to those with the lowest levels.

4. Excessive Exercise

Based on a study conducted in 2012, it takes women, who engage in vigorous exercise for more than 5 hours every week, significantly longer to get pregnant. Researchers concluded that the high-intensity workouts negatively affect ovulation and implantation. Moderate exercise, however, boosted fertility.

5. Too Much TV

According to a study published in British Journal of Sports Medicine, increased hours of TV means a decrease in sperm concentration. The men, participating in the study, who watched more than 20 hours of TV per week had a 44% lower sperm concentration compared to those who watched no TV. On the other hand, men who exercised more than 15 hours a week had a 73% higher sperm concentration.

6. Pocketing an iPhone

According to a 2014 meta-analysis , cellphone exposure may weaken sperm. When phones emit radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation, it can damage DNA and hinders a sperms ability to fertilize. Additionally, phones emit heat when in use which can also reduce sperm production. 

7. Processed Meats

A study published in the journal Epidemiology in 2014 revealed that consumption of processed red meat, such as hot dogs, burgers, and bacon, negatively impacted both sperm count and mobility. The researchers believe the culprit behind the sparse, slow swimmers is the saturated fat in these meats. On the other hand, men who ate more poultry had more fertile sperm.

8. Smoking

According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, smoking causes 13% of all infertility cases. Not only does smoking age ovaries and diminish a woman’s egg supply, but it also lowers a man’s sperm count.

9. Too Much or Too Little Sex

Have sex every other day around ovulation, says Dr. Diana Bitner, MD, an ob-gyn at Spectrum Health Medical Group in Grand Rapids, Mich. Having sex frequently can significantly drop a guy’s sperm count.

On the other hand, having sex regularly, not just when you’re most likely to get pregnant, sends important messages throughout a woman’s body, argues a 2015 study published in Fertility and Sterility. Instead of merely focusing on fighting illnesses, the immune system shifts its focus to reproduction.

10. BMI in the Obese Range

Turns out that a man’s weight has just as much affect on fertility as a woman’s according to the National Institutes of Health. Recently published in the journal Human Reproduction, a new study discovered it can take couples, in which both partners are obese, up to 59% longer to get pregnant than those in the healthy BMI range.

11. Drinking Too Many Sodas

Interestingly, a 2016 study, consisting of 524 patients, linked artificial sweeteners common in “diet” sodas to lower fertility rates. Similarly, sugar additives in other drinks also impact the quality of eggs and embryos. Since soft drinks can lead to obesity and diabetes – both of which affect fertility – further research is required to validate the connection between artificial sweeteners and conception.

12. Diet High in Trans-Fat

Even if a couple is relatively slim, they can still incur fertility problems if they consume high quantities of trans-fat. Consuming large quantities of trans-fat can damage ovaries and can result in low quality embryos.

13. Kissing the Wrong Person

Recently, an Italian study found that 43% of the women participating had HHV-6A, one of the human herpes. The primary way of passing this virus is through saliva, meaning it can be unknowingly transmitted through kissing. The preliminary findings of this research provides a breakthrough for millions of women with unexplained primary infertility.

14. Too Much or Too Little Sleep

Indulging in a few more hours of sleep could actually affect your ability to conceive. In a survey of over 700 American couples, men who slept more than 9 hours or less than 6 hours per night reduced their chances of conception by over 40%. More than likely, sleep duration affects the release of testosterone overnight. The study recommends 8 hours of sleep a night for peak fecundity.

15. Drinking a Lot of Alcohol

In a Danish study consisting of over 6000 women aged 21-45, those who drank over 14 servings of alcohol per week (equivalent to 7 glasses of wine – higher than NHS guidelines) lowered their chances of conceiving by 18%. The NHS advises that women give up alcohol altogether if they’re trying to conceive.

If you’re struggling to get pregnant, it’s possible that one or more of the factors listed is to blame. Consider making some lifestyle changes to enhance your chances of conception. Before making any extreme lifestyle changes though, consult your doctor. But don’t forget to make sure you ob-gyn is in your network!
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