Lifestyle Choices

Female Infertility is a reproductive disorder which can have many causes.

Some causes are not easily — or even able — to be changed. However, lifestyle choices can have a profound impact on your fertility and pregnancy health.

In our Austin Fertility Center, it is clear that tobacco abuse, weight issues, alcohol, and caffeine use can all impact fertility, pregnancy, and fetal outcomes. It is ideal to address these factors before pregnancy takes place.

Tobacco Use and Fertility

The chemicals in cigarette smoke can cause the ovaries to age faster, leading to a higher change of infertility, miscarriage, and menopause at an early age. Much of this impact appears to be irreversible. Cigarette smoking can also increase the chance of pregnancy complications, including preterm labor and delivery, underweight newborn, placental problems, and ectopic pregnancy. There can also be adverse effects on the health of children who grow up around smoking parents.

Alcohol and Fertility

Alcohol consumption has been shown, in general, to have a detrimental impact on female and male fertility. Higher levels of consumption (more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day) are best avoided when attempting pregnancy. In women, a more conservative amount is generally accepted. Once ovulation occurs and a possible pregnancy is germinating, there is no safe level of alcohol exposure. There are a variety of birth defects related to alcohol intake during pregnancy; these can range from mild growth retardation and neurobehavioral effects to the full fetal alcohol syndrome.

Unprotected Intercourse, STDs and Infertility

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are sexually transmitted infections which can have a profound impact on fertility. Untreated, approximately 40% of women will go on to develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). A critical issue is that many women with chlamydia or gonorrhea may have no recognizable symptoms. The same can be true of the male partner. It is important for women and men who desire future fertility to take steps toward reducing infection exposure during intercourse. This can be accomplished by limiting sexual partners and/or using condoms.

Caffeine and Fertility

Caffeine exposure has been linked to both infertility and miscarriage. One study has shown a 50% increase in infertility in those who consume excessive (500 mg or more) caffeine intake daily. An even smaller amount (more than 200-300 mg) daily may still increase the risk of miscarriage. It is reasonable to minimize caffeine prior to and during pregnancy to optimize reproductive outcome.
Other: Though there is limited research, illicit drug use can have a detrimental impact on both fertility and pregnancy outcome.