Lifestyle and Fertility – Connecting the Dots

If you have heard the saying “life begins at forty”, our modern age may have a slightly different version of this “life stops at thirty”. Researchers have found that both men and women have a declined ability to reproduce after the age of 30. This is mainly attributed to lifestyle changes. Unlike our parent’s time when men and women had no problem reproducing after the age of 30, with the decreased quality of both sperm and eggs, this will be much more difficult. What is the reason behind this change?

Let’s start with the women. At birth, a woman has about 1-2 million eggs which then reduces as time goes by with 100-200 thousand in their twenties. This then steadily decreases as they age. Although this is natural process, the difference nowadays is that not only is the quantity decreasing but even worse, the quality.  This is especially important with the women. Some of the lifestyle issues that have contributed to such a change include:

1Sedentary lifestyles

A study conducted by Paul B. Miller, M.D of the University Medical Group in Greenville revealed that overweight women who were undergoing in vitro fertilization were half has likely to get pregnant than women with normal weights. This is because heavier women tend to produce large amounts of male hormones which either prevent the ovaries from releasing the egg or reduce the quality of the eggs.  The other extreme is also a factor and underweight women also have problems reproducing. Men also experience decreased quality and quantity of sperm if their weight is more or less than normal. Women who exercise have on the other hand found to have a 7% reduced risk of experiencing ovulatory infertility for every hour they exercised.

2Unhealthy habits

This includes cigarette smoking and drinking alcohol. Researchers have found that those who smoke 10 or more cigarettes a day are more likely to have infertility problems. This is because of the toxins contained in cigarettes which interfere with the natural ability for the ovary to make hormones that promote healthy egg production. In men, lower sperm counts and abnormally shaped sperm are some of the effects of smoking.

The unhealthy lifestyle that more and more people are being exposed to is clearly having more negative effects than we imagined. With the mentioned lifestyle changes, it is no wonder that conceiving while in your early twenties or mid-twenties is now considered the safest and surest way to a healthy pregnancy.