Fertility Blog

Lifestyle Factors and Fertility: What You Should Know

Women's fertility can be significantly impacted by lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, and exercise. Understanding these factors is crucial if you are planning to start a family or are having difficulty conceiving. Here are some essential lifestyle considerations to keep in mind.


Smoking is harmful to fertility. A toxic chemical called cotinine is formed after nicotine enters the body, and it can damage the reproductive organs and reduce ovarian reserve (i.e., the quality and quantity of your eggs). Quitting smoking is crucial for those trying to conceive.

Alcohol Consumption & Substance Use

Heavy drinking and drug use can negatively affect fertility. Excessive amounts of alcohol or illicit drug use disrupt the balance of reproductive hormones. Alcohol decreases the activity of hormones critical to conceiving a baby such as luteinizing and follicle-stimulation hormones.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

The BMI is a measurement that evaluates a person’s weight and height ratio. A high BMI can adversely impact fertility by affecting hormonal balance and reproductive functions, as can a very low BMI. Being overweight has also been linked with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which causes inconsistent periods. PCOS inhibits the follicles from regularly releasing. Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial when you are trying to get pregnant.


Maintaining a healthy weight requires a balanced and nutritious diet, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Studies show changes in diet, such as adding antioxidant-rich foods can lower the adverse effects of oxidative stress on reproduction. Foods rich in antioxidants include bright-colored fruits and vegetables, green tea, dark chocolate, and spices such as cumin, turmeric, ginger, and oregano.


Regular moderate exercise can positively affect fertility, but excessive or intense exercise may have the opposite effect on your reproductive health. Avoid extreme exercise routines and consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new workout program.

Environmental Exposures

Exposure to certain environmental toxins, such as pesticides, chemicals, and radiation, can negatively impact your fertility. It’s essential to minimize exposure to these and other environmental toxins when trying to conceive.

Mental Health

High levels of stress may interfere with ovulation (i.e., the monthly release of an egg by the ovaries). Managing stress through employing a regular exercise routine, relaxation techniques, or practicing meditation and mindfulness are methods that are known to help reduce stress.

Managing any mental health issues you are experiencing while trying to conceive is essential to ensuring your reproductive health. Studies show that infertility is twice as likely to occur in women with a history of depression. The length of time it takes to achieve pregnancy can also be prolonged when a person has severe anxiety.

Medical Conditions

Several medical conditions are known to interfere with a person’s effort to get pregnant; some of the most common disorders include:

  • PCOS
  • Endometriosis
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

During your initial fertility screening, your fertility specialist may evaluate you for these disorders; if you have signs or symptoms of any of these conditions, managing them may help you conceive.

Request a Fertility Consultation

If you are having trouble conceiving or have any concerns about your fertility, seek the advice of a physician specializing in reproductive medicine who can evaluate your situation and provide personalized treatment options. Remember that every person’s fertility journey is unique, seeking expert guidance and support is foundational to making the best choices for you during your family-building journey. Request a consultation at Washington Fertility Center in Annandale or Fredericksburg, VA today.