1. Stop smoking!
If you want a baby, both of you need to put out the cigarettes. Smoking is the least recognized, but possibly the most easily correctable contribution to infertility. Recent studies of infertility shows that even passive smoking affects your ability to get pregnant. Luckily second hand smoke has been eliminated in so many places!
2. Have sex!
So many patients get focused on issues that aren't as critical such as how often to have sex, and whether their guy's sperm count will lower if they don't have the proper interval between sex. Actually not having sex lowers the sperm count. When over 10,000 men were studied, going for more than 10 days without sex lowered the sperm count. In men with normal counts, daily ejaculation didn't change their counts or the numbers of motile sperm. So have sex as much as you want, but put out the cigarettes.
3. Don't vape either. There are many known issues with women who smoke and fertility. We have known for a long time that smokers go through an earlier menopause due to earlier depletion of all their viable eggs. This translates in to a 1-4 year earlier menopause. But we now know that the baseline pituitary hormone, FSH, levels creep up on smokers years before this and in fact the impact on ovulation and thus fertility sets in much earlier. No one has quite worked out if this is due to nicotine or the other products in cigarettes, so perhaps vaping wouldn’t cause as much effect (more research needs to be done regarding vaping and the effect on health).
4. Eat better dude! In another first, the Aug 2009 issue of Fertility and Sterility research from Medellin, Columbia and Cleveland, Ohio reports that increasing antioxidant intake in men can improve the quality of their spermatozoa. We may be able to explain this just by the micronutrient selenium. It has been shown in rats that selenium is essential for the normal levels of testosterone and thus it was reported in the Journal of Reproductive Fertility in 1996 that selenium also helps to have normal spermatozoa. Miscarriages are extremely common in pregnancy, with about 20% of all pregnancies ending in early losses. Often the losses are due to blighted ovums that may be due to the egg or the sperm being abnormal. In turn the couples who had previously had recurrent embryo losses (miscarriages, recurrent defined as 3 or more) were more likely to have a successful pregnancy after the male partners were treated with anti-oxidants. These antioxidants were either multivitamins or vitamins C, E, plus zinc and b-carotene. Although we have to remember that the actual list of causes of miscarriages is quite long, genetic causes account for over half of all miscarriages, and you should see your gyno to make sure of other treatable conditions, here is another, relatively simple, and completely healthy, way to up those chances of not having a miscarriage!
5. Don't let her smoke either! In addition to fertility issues contributed by women who smoke, there are also problems with fertility as a results of men who smoke. Sperm counts and parameters in the semen analysis are worse, but no studies actually have proven male infertility due to smoking. But for those with borderline counts, the evidence seems clear enough to at least stop smoking while trying to conceive. Studies of individual genes within sperm have also shown that smoking can cause individual gene damage in sperm.
Once a woman is pregnant, smoking increases the chance of early miscarriage. Here are some stats for you to contemplate:
- About 1/3 of the population smokes
- Smokers have at least double the rate of infertility based on getting pregnant within one year
- Smokers have 20 times the risk of having a tubal pregnancy than non-smokers
For more information regrading pregnancy and smoking see the committee opinion of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, and come for consultation at Women's Health Practice 217-356-3736.