Nutritional deficiencies have negative effects on both male & female fertility. Evidence points to impaired sperm creation, egg development, ovulation and hormonal profiles. It has been shown that the nutrient values of many of our current foods have declined considerably, sometimes up to 50% in the case of magnesium and in excess of 20% in many vitamins and minerals in foods generally, in the last 50-60 years.
The Harvard Fertility Diet showed us, on a large scale that nutrition and nutrient intake, coupled with lifestyle advice, can improve fertility significantly. Over 80% of the 17,000+ women improved their fertility in a number of months.
Men & women who are under or overweight are at risk of changes in hormone levels that heavily influence their fertility. Excess body weight and obesity impacts our hormonal process, our endocrine system and sperm and egg creation. Simple dietary advice includes avoidance of caffeine drinks such as cola and coffee, avoidance of salt, sugar, alcohol & nicotine. A wholefood diet is recommended, with appropriate levels of fruit & vegetables, and reduced animal fats & processed foods.
Caffeine has been associated with an increase in the time to pregnancy of over 9.5 months, particularly if the amount is over 500mg per day. Women who consumed more than 100mg of caffeine a day were more likely to experience a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion.
While there are studies that demonstrate a link between alcohol & infertility, it is not clear what amount relates to an increased risk. Women who drink large amounts of alcohol have a higher chance of experiencing an infertility examination than moderate drinkers. Amounts of alcohol ranging from one drink a week to 5 units a day can have various effects including increased time to pregnancy, decreased probability of conception rate by over 50%, and decreased implantation rate.
In men alcohol seems to have a large impact on both sperm morphology & motility.
Women who smoke have a significantly higher odds ratio of infertility in comparison to non-smokers. This may be due to decreases in ovarian function and a reduced ovarian reserve. Disruption of hormone levels may also be a possible mechanism.
Men who smoke tend to have a decrease in total sperm count, density, motility, normal morphology, and semen volume.