Smoking cessation should be a priority for all women trying to conceive. Women who smoke go through menopause earlier, and have higher rates of infertility and miscarriage. If you become pregnant, smoking is harmful to your unborn child. Men who smoke or chew tobacco have decreased semen quality. Living with a smoker not only makes it much harder to quit, but second hand smoke is also linked to poor reproductive outcomes. Read more in our blog, Quit Smoking to Improve Your Fertility.
Limit or eliminate alcohol
Although research is inconclusive on the affect of alcohol on fertility, we recommend that alcohol consumption should be confined to less than 4 drinks per week, particularly if you are undergoing IVF treatments. Alcohol may also reduce sperm counts, especially when consumption is consistently in excess of 2 drinks per day, or in the case of binge drinking. We also recommend no more than 4 drinks per week for men.
Of course, alcohol consumption should cease during pregnancy due to its well-documented detrimental effects on the fetus and since no “safe” level has been established in pregnancy.
Recent studies suggest that daily caffeine intake before or during pregnancy may increase the chance of miscarriage. High levels of caffeine consumption, more than 500mg, may also be associated with decreased fertility. An 8 oz cup of brewed or drip coffee contains between 100 and 150 mg of caffeine.
Be aware of prescription drugs
Both men and women should consult their physician regarding effects of their prescription medications on fertility. It is safe, and recommended, to get your flu shot.
Don’t use recreational drugs
All street drugs are detrimental to fertility. Marijuana can remain in the testes for more than two weeks and cocaine effects can be seen for two years.
Frequent exposure to solvents, dry cleaning chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and lead may all be associated with reduced fertility potential in men and women.
More is better; in fact every day is OK. Trying to “save up” sperm by abstaining from intercourse does not help, and in fact may result in an adverse effect on semen quality.
If your periods are regular, the best time to begin having intercourse during the menstrual cycle is just after your bleeding stops. Regular intercourse (daily or every few days) until the third week of the menstrual cycle results in the highest rates of conception. Ovulation predictor kits are quite accurate in women with regular cycles and may be beneficial in couples who have intercourse less frequently. When using these urine tests, the best 2 days to have intercourse are the day the kit is positive and the next day.
Most commercially available lubricants can inhibit sperm motility. Saliva can inhibit sperm motility also. If you need to use a vaginal lubricant during intercourse, canola oil, mineral oil, or lubricants that contain hydroxyethylcellulose (Pre-Seed) that don’t inhibit sperm motility would be best.