The Role of Diet and Lifestyle Factors in Infertility

Dr. Shamim Patel

April 26, 2023

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Many couples are faced with infertility issues. In addition to several other factors, diet and lifestyle may significantly improve or prevent infertility.

A systematic review evaluated the relationship between modifiable lifestyle behaviors and fertility in men and women. The review examined the effects of fat-rich diets, delayed childbearing/age of starting a family, smoking, alcohol misuse, sexual behavior and anxiety/depression on fertility.


In small-scale societies, age combines biological and social maturity plus seniority. Generations are defined by the birth order of each person within a kinship group.

Diet and lifestyle is generally accepted that fertility potential declines with age in women. This is due to a decrease in the number of oocytes that can be harvested from the ovaries and a decline in the number of sperm that can be collected in men (Tyden et al. 2006).

A recent study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology suggests that combining diet and lifestyle factors may reduce the risk of ovulatory-related infertility in women. The study, which is led by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health, found that women who ate a healthy diet and drank less alcohol experienced a greater relative risk of becoming pregnant than those who did not make changes to their lifestyles.


Being overweight or obese can impact a woman’s fertility, which may be one reason some women have difficulty conceiving. Obesity increases the risk of ovulatory dysfunction, meaning no egg is released each month (called anovulation).

Being underweight can also affect a woman’s fertility. This is because being underweight can disrupt ovulation and cause irregular menstrual cycles.

Women need to eat well and lose excess weight. Losing as little as 5 to 10% of your body weight can stabilize ovulation, which improves your chances of getting pregnant.


We all know smoking can cause cancer and heart disease, but did you know it can also damage a woman’s fertility? The chemicals in cigarettes can damage eggs and sperm, which affects your chances of getting pregnant.

Women who smoke take longer to become pregnant and have a higher risk of not getting pregnant despite trying. Fortunately, quitting is a natural way to boost fertility.

Men who smoke have lower sperm concentration (the number of sperm per milliliter of semen) than nonsmokers, and it also reduces sperm movement and shape. Smokers have higher rates of erectile dysfunction, too.


Stress significantly impacts fertility, and women who experience infertility have higher levels of anxiety and depression than those without. Fortunately, there are ways to manage stress and improve your chances of becoming pregnant.

Managing your stress can be a difficult task, but it is possible. Behavioral therapy, meditation, yoga, and other mind-body programs have been shown to help.

In addition to improving fertility, these techniques may decrease anxiety and depression. For instance, mindfulness-based stress reduction has been linked to a lower risk of miscarriage and higher conception rates in IVF patients.


A healthy diet is essential to a person’s health and well-being. It should include a variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and dairy products.

A balanced diet improves ovulation and helps to prevent recurrent miscarriages in both men and women. It can also help to promote a positive pregnancy outcome following infertility treatment.

Dietary habits such as eating fast food and sodas, hypercaloric diets, consuming large amounts of saturated fats and sugar, lack of nutrient intake and obesity have been shown to impact fertility. However, the effect of different nutrients on fertility is still under investigation.