The World Health Organisation defines health as a state of ‘complete physical, mental, and social well-being’ and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Improving our state of wellness helps achieve our full potential in all aspects of life.


A healthy lifestyle also improves fertility and increases the chances of successful fertility treatment. The following factors often have profound negative implications on your health, but can be modified to benefit your overall fitness.

Common factors that impact on health:

1. Smoking

Health risks of smoking are well known, but the shocking impact on reproductive health has never been fully appreciated. There is now substantial evidence that suggests smoking reduces a couple’s chances of successful pregnancy and increases the possibility of health risks to children.

Impact of cigarette smoking on reproduction:

  • Increased incidence of infertility
  • The time it takes to conceive is longer in smokers than non-smokers
  • Cigarette smoking is harmful to a woman’s ovaries and appears to accelerate the loss of eggs and reproductive potential and may advance the time of menopause
  • Components in cigarette smoke have been shown to cause a woman’s eggs to be more prone to genetic abnormalities
  • Smoking is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and possibly ectopic pregnancy
  • Pregnant smokers are more likely to have low birth weight babies and premature births
  • Women who smoke have also been shown to produce smaller volumes of lower quality breast milk
  • Smoking during pregnancy can lead to foetal malformations such as cleft palate
  • Increased incidence of sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory infections in children and the development of childhood asthma
  • Men who smoke have lower sperm counts, motility and increased abnormalities in sperm shape and function

Impact of cigarette smoking on assisted reproduction

  • Women undergoing IVF treatment are much less likely to succeed if they smoke
  • Nearly twice as many IVF attempts are required to conceive in smokers than in non-smokers
  • Smokers require higher levels of gonadotrophins (fertility drugs) to stimulate their ovaries
  • Women smokers undergoing IVF generally have fewer eggs collected and more cancelled cycles
  • Miscarriage rates also increase in smokers

 

2. Body Weight

  • The ratio between body fat and height is referred to as Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • A healthy BMI range is considered to be between 18.5 to 25
  • It is important that you are as near to your ideal BMI as possible
  • Being overweight or underweight can cause general health problems and affect your fertility

 

3. Exercise

  • Regular exercise improves physical fitness, helping you lose weight and decreases stress levels
  • Everyone should aim for some form of ‘aerobic exercise’ three times a week. Jogging, swimming, football, tennis and squash can dramatically improve your health
  • You do not necessarily need to join an expensive club or buy lots of equipment to get enough exercise; a brisk twenty-minute walk two to three times a week is sufficient
  • Using stairs instead of lifts/escalators and walking to the shops can all make a difference and improve fitness

 

4. Alcohol Intake

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can adversely affect your health and fertility, and cause damage to your baby if pregnant.

Alcohol and female fertility:

In women, excessive alcohol intake can cause:

  • Infertility
  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Impaired foetal growth and development
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction resulting in the absence of periods
  • Lack of ovulation

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy puts your baby at risk of:

  • Miscarriage
  • Pre-term birth
  • Stillbirth

Alcoholic mothers also have an increased risk of foetal alcohol syndrome, which is characterised by growth deficiency, mental retardation, behavioural disturbances and an atypical heart-shaped facial appearance in the baby. Additionally, congenital heart defects and brain abnormalities are also often found in these babies. This syndrome occurs in up to 40% of babies born to women who are alcoholics.

Alcohol and male fertility:

In men, excessive alcohol may result in oestrogen levels changes, which can interfere with sperm development. Alcohol is also a toxin that can kill the sperm-generating cells in the testicles. Sperm takes at least three months to develop and this should be considered when preparing for treatment. Men who regularly drink excessive amounts of alcohol may suffer with decreased libido and erectile dysfunction. It is thought that up to 40% of male subfertility is due to excessive alcohol intake; this effect can be reversed by reducing or refraining from alcohol.

 

5. Nutritional intake

Adequate nutritional intake helps to achieve/ensure:

  • Healthy body weight is maintained
  • Sufficient vitamins and minerals which are essential for health and particularly for couples trying to conceive
  • You have enough energy for all your daily activities

 

6. Genital tract infections

Infections of the genital tract and those spread by sexual contact can cause suffering in affected men and women. These infections are mostly preventable including:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Trichomonas
  • Syphilis
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B & C

 

7. Genital tract cancers

Cancers of the genital tract can cause serious ill-health in men and women. Those commonly affecting women include:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Endometrial (womb) cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Vulval cancer

 

8. Stress

Life is stressful, but even more so when challenges come our way including infertility and its treatments. However, it is not stress itself that causes problems but the way in which we respond to it. Many couples believe their future happiness depends upon successful fertility treatment outcomes and stress in those situations is commonplace. With positive ways of dealing with stress, couples undergoing fertility treatment can help avoid negative symptoms including:

  • insomnia
  • fatigue – constant lack of energy
  • anxiety
  • inability to concentrate for long
  • mood swings
  • depression

 

How can Aurora help?

We understand the importance of good health and so provide bespoke health solutions to our clients including Wellman and Wellwoman services and Screening clinics. We specifically provide the following:

  • Outpatient consultations with full body examination
  • Blood pressure and heart rhythm testing/monitoring 
  • Blood count and renal/liver function tests; thyroid function tests
  • Basic male and female hormone testing
  • Pelvic ultrasound scan
  • Ovarian reserve testing
  • Fertile period advice
  • Smoking cessation program
  • Bodyweight/nutrition advice and monitoring
  • Exercise suggestions
  • Alcohol intake advice and support for maintaining healthy alcohol limits
  • Advice from a professional nutritionist based on any food/dietary preferences
  • Genital tract infection screening/treatment and advice on safe sex practices
  • Genital tract cancer screening we provide cervical and ovarian cancer screening
  • Stress management strategies from our expert counsellors to support couples undergoing treatment