Lifestyle Factors That Can Affect Fertility

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Caffeine
Women: Studies show a correlation between increased caffeine consumption and difficulty conceiving. If removing coffee completely from the daily routine is a hard adjustment, try limiting it to only one cup per day and consider switching to decaffeinated coffee. It’s important to note that soda and chocolate contain caffeine as well.

Men: Some studies suggest that drinking a cup of coffee before intercourse can cause sperm to become more active in some men.

Calcium
Women: Although women tend to know about the importance of calcium for many health reasons, some may not be aware of the role calcium plays during pregnancy. In pregnant women who don’t get enough calcium, the fetus will leach it from their bones, which may impair health in the mother later on. And, once pregnant, the baby will need calcium to grow strong bones and teeth, healthy nerves, heart and muscles.

Men: Studies show that consuming 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day may improve male fertility.

Good Sources: Yogurt, skim milk, calcium-fortified orange juice, cheese, rice, tofu.

Folic acid
Women: Women who don’t get enough folic acid may increase the chance of miscarriage and birth defects. It is important for women trying to conceive to have adequate folic acid intake (800 micrograms or 0.8 milligrams) prior to getting pregnant, since the fetus needs folic acid early on in order to prevent neural tube defects. Many women may not realize they are even pregnant during this early time.

Good Sources: Leafy green vegetables, chicken liver, beef liver, lentils, asparagus, papaya, broccoli, hard-boiled eggs, wheat germ. As well, women should consider taking multivitamins or supplements containing folic acid.

Zinc
Women: Pregnant women with severe deficiencies of zinc may have increased risk of miscarriage, pregnancy-related toxemia, extended pregnancy and prolonged labour. An added benefit of zinc is its ability to help prevent stretch marks.

Men: Even short-term zinc deficiencies can reduce semen volume and testosterone levels.

Good Sources: There are not many foods rich in zinc except oysters. Beef, seafood, lamb, toasted wheat germ and miso do contain zinc, but a good prenatal vitamin supplement will fulfill the zinc need.

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