Lifestyle Habits May Impact Fertility
Couples that are having difficulty getting pregnant may benefit from changing some lifestyle habits. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, two lifestyle factors that may have an affect on fertility are weight and exercise.
Weight loss or low weight may affect the hormonal signal that the brain sends to a woman's ovaries or a man's testes. In mild cases, a woman's ovaries may still make and release eggs, but the lining of the uterus may not be ready to have a fertilized egg implant because of inadequate ovarian hormone production. In more serious cases, the woman's ovaries may not produce eggs at all. In addition, women who are underweight may have irregular or no menstrual cycles, which can contribute to infertility. Low weight or weight loss in men may decrease the sperm count or how well the sperm function. If low weight has been identified as a problem that may be contributing to infertility, the ideal treatment is to stop losing weight or, sometimes, to gain weight. In some circumstances medication may be recommended.
Being obese or overweight may also impact a woman's fertility. With increased weight, an increase in insulin levels may cause the ovaries to overproduce male hormones and stop releasing eggs. The ideal solution is to bring your weight down to your recommended weight range.
In some cases, drugs can be used for overweight patients, but it is important that glucose (blood sugar) levels are normal prior to getting pregnant. In some cases, insulin sensitizing medication may be necessary to restore ovulation in patients who have been diagnosed with hyperinsulinemia (high insulin to glucose ratio). Any other metabolic or medical conditions also need to be addressed before attempting to get pregnant.
Exercise and diet are very important to having general good health and maintaining an appropriate weight. Normal exercise generally does not affect fertility; however, excessive exercise may impact fertility by decreasing the sperm count in a man or stopping ovulation in a woman. If this is contributing to infertility, decreasing or modifying the exercise program is the best treatment.
Review Date: June 29, 2001
Reviewed By: Peter Chen, M.D., Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of
Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2001 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.