Healthy living

Fertility and lifestyle

A number of factors can affect your fertility including your age and you and your partner’s lifestyle.

Your age is a significant factor influencing fertility.  Female and male fertility decreases from the age of 35. Sixty per cent of pregnancies over the age of 45 do not produce a live birth.

You and your partner’s lifestyles can impact on your ability to conceive. This includes:

Stress

  • A busy lifestyle usually means couples have less opportunity for sex.
  • Infrequent intercourse can also cause sperm counts to drop.

Alcohol

  • One to five glasses of wine per week can affect fertility.
  • The use of alcohol inhibits ovulation.

Weight

  • Being underweight can inhibit or stop the menstrual cycle. 
  • A person’s BMI should be kept between 20 and 24, too much deviation from this can lead to a disruption in healthy ovulation. 
  • High levels of fat can disturb hormone production and cause irregular periods.
  • The Better Lifestyle and Obstetric Outcomes for Mothers (BLOOM) Program (external site) helps overweight women have a successful, healthy pregnancy.

Smoking

  • Smoking increases the risk of infertility in men and women and can affect male erectile function while women who smoke can take longer to conceive.
  • Smoking may also have a negative effect on sperm motility and morphology with sperm counts, on average, being 13-17 per cent lower in smokers. 

Heat

  • Excessive heat can affect sperm production so men should avoid using electric blankets, spas and wearing tight fitting pants.

Use of prescription or recreational drugs

  • Recreational drug use and the use of some prescribed medications can harm sperm quality.

Pollutants

  • Exposure to chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides, chemotherapy and x-ray therapy can be toxic to sperm and eggs.

Lubricants

  • Lubricants (such as K-Y Jelly, Surgilube and Apha Keri lotation) contain bacteriostatic agents which can affect sperm motility.
  • Saliva is toxic to sperm.

Public Fertility Clinic in WA

The reproductive medicine clinic (external site) at King Edward Memorial Hospital is a public funded fertility clinic providing assessment and treatment for individuals and couples experiencing fertility issues.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222

Remember

  • Age is a significant factor influencing fertility.
  • You and your partner’s lifestyle can affect your fertility.

Acknowledgements
Womens and Newborns Health Network

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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