Does Your Lifestyle Need To Change When Starting A Family?

It’s never too late to start making healthy changes for you and your family

By Nicole McCray

June 27 2021

We’re all well aware that our lifestyle choices can affect our long-term health. We know that we should eat healthier and avoid cigarettes and alcohol during pregnancy. But does your lifestyle need to change when starting a family? How do your lifestyle decisions affect your ability to conceive?

Even if you aren’t planning to start a family right away, there’s a good chance you’ll want children in the future. The thing is, fertility is directly related to long-term health. Being aware of how your lifestyle choices can affect your fertility is important for supporting your ability to conceive in the future.

Whether you’re actively trying to conceive right now or sometime in the distant future, leading a healthy lifestyle can benefit your fertility, your health, and the health of your future baby. Lifestyle isn’t the only thing that can affect your fertility, but you can control it.

Factors like caffeine consumption, stress, nutrition, substance abuse, and toxic overload can affect your ability to conceive now and in the future. Let’s dive into some simple tweaks you can make in your daily life to increase your chances of getting pregnant when the time is right.

Learn to Manage Your Stress

Stress contributes to a variety of health issues, from hormonal imbalances to a weakened immune system. When it comes to fertility, extreme stress can interfere with menstruation and ovulation. To make matters worse, fertility issues can increase stress levels astronomically.

Stress also pushes you to make unhealthy lifestyle choices that can impact your overall health and fertility. It may interfere with your sleeping patterns, make it harder for you to stick to a healthy diet and exercise. It may also contribute to the overuse of alcohol, drugs, caffeine, and tobacco.

Yoga, meditation, moderate exercise, journaling, and creative hobbies are all good ways to combat stress. It would help if you also consider joining a fertility support group. Locating a fertility support group will give you access to a support system of women at a similar stage of life and a safe place to talk about your experiences. 

Quit Smoking

Many people don’t realize that smoking can hurt every aspect of the female reproductive process, not just pregnancy. It can affect fertility for both men and women. 

Cotinine and cadmium are two toxins found in cigarette smoke that reduce the quality of both eggs and sperm. Tobacco smoke also results in sperm DNA damage, reducing fertilization rates. 

Beyond that, smoking leads to a greater risk of health problems for you and your future baby.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or underweight can impact your reproductive cycles, so your weight plays a direct role in your ability to conceive. 

Excess weight can interfere with regular menstruation and ovulation because fat cells produce estrogen. Too much estrogen can affect the body, much like hormonal birth control pills by preventing ovulation and pregnancy.

A higher BMI can also affect hormone balance, further lowering your chances of getting pregnant. And when you do get pregnant, excess weight can increase your risk of pregnancy complications, including miscarriage and gestational diabetes.

On the other hand, being underweight can have the exact opposite impact on your hormones. Having too few fat cells means lower estrogen production, equating to irregular menstruation - or even a complete lack of menstruation - and ovulation.

Prioritize Nutrition

Eating a healthy diet is just as important for fertility as it is for overall health. Eating a wide variety of nutritious foods, especially fruits and vegetables, increases your intake of antioxidants, which are key for preventing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is harmful to both sperm and eggs.

Taking a daily multivitamin is also a good idea throughout your fertility journey. Nutrients like folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D are crucial for your baby’s development in the first weeks of your pregnancy, when you may not even realize you’re pregnant.

Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption can affect the health of a growing fetus, but that’s not the only part it plays in your reproductive health. Excessive alcohol consumption has a negative impact on liver function. The liver plays a key role in hormone production, which means poor liver function can lead to menstruation and ovulation issues.

Alcohol consumption can also increase your risk of early miscarriage in the first several weeks of pregnancy. For men, it can lower sperm count and reduce sperm health and motility.

Exercise the Right Way

There’s no question that exercise is vital for overall health and maintaining a healthy weight. But it’s also important to know that too much high-intensity exercise can interfere with ovulation by contributing to hormonal imbalances. Any lifestyle choice that contributes to hormonal irregularities should be avoided because it can reduce your risk of becoming pregnant.

Reduce Your Toxic Overload

We can’t always reduce our exposure to toxins, but it’s important to know that exposure to toxins can lead to fertility issues. Reducing your exposure to chemicals in personal care products, cleaning products, and the foods you eat can go a long way toward reducing your toxic overload. 

For example, when renovating a home, you should use a damp sponge or cloth to clean dust collected on a window sill, as the dust may contain asbestos or lead-based paint. And when you do need to use chemicals, take the time to follow proper safety protocols, including wearing a mask and gloves.

Safeguard Your Sexual Health

If you plan to have a child anytime in the future, safeguarding your sexual health is extremely important. STD and infections, such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia, can cause lasting issues for your fertility health by creating scar tissue that can block the fallopian tubes.

Using condoms is, but it’s also important to stay on top of regular checkups and see your doctor if you have any reason to be concerned about STDs or infections.

The Bottom Line

Lifestyle factors can have a lasting impact on your fertility, and it’s never too late to start making healthy changes. If you’re planning to start a family, making these positive changes in your lifestyle could help you get pregnant sooner and improve your overall health at the same time.