Many people link obesity, smoking, drugs and stress with infertility problems, but lifestyles could also come in the way of conception for many couples.
A University of Adelaide (U-A) study has advised infertile couples to seek advice about their lifestyle before embarking on IVF treatment or other assisted reproductive technology.
Gillian Homan, fertility nurse specialist from the University's Robinson Institute, says that couples experiencing infertility should understand the role their own lifestyle can play in helping them achieve their goal of a healthy baby.
The reproductive health researcher surveyed 20 new patients from the Adelaide fertility clinic Repromed to gauge their perception of how lifestyle affects fertility. While the evidence of the impact of weight on fertility is very strong, only half of the overweight women in this study considered their own weight to be a risk factor for infertility.
"Both obesity and low body weight can cause hormone imbalances and affect ovulation," Homan says. "The time it takes to become pregnant is markedly increased if both partners are obese and the chance of delivering a healthy baby is also less."
Homan says overweight women are also at risk of pregnancy complications such as miscarriage, gestational diabetes and raised blood pressure. The other major finding to come out of the study reveals that many women trying to conceive are not following the current recommended guidelines for folic acid supplements, said an U-A release.
"A daily supplement of folic acid pre-conceptually and in the first three months of pregnancy has been shown to decrease the risk of neural tube defects by up to 70 percent. Many women around the world are reportedly unaware of this fact," Homan says.
These findings were published in the Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing this month.