So, by this point you know two important steps to improving your fertility: If you're obese, lose weight; if you're underweight, gain it. But, obviously, that's not all. If weight were the only factor influencing a couple's ability to conceive, the world would have fewer fertility clinics and lots more babies.
Fortunately, there are other things you can do to increase your chances of getting pregnant. In addition to weight management, both men and women should:
- Improve nutrition
- Manage stress
- Quit smoking
- Cut back on alcohol and caffeine
- Reduce exposure to environmental toxins
- Get regular checkups
In addition,women should avoid vigorous physical activity when trying to get pregnant. Going overboard with exercise can reduce progesterone production and interfere with ovulation [source: Mayo Clinic]. To a lesser degree, excessive exercise can impact a man's fertility by reducing testosterone levels [source: Levine]. Of course, moderate physical exercise is allowed for both sexes -- even recommended.
While men should follow the same general guidelines as women, there are a few differences to keep in mind. For example, abstaining from sex for more than a few days can affect a man's sperm quality. And certain male-specific health conditions, like low testosterone and variococeles (varicose veins in the testicles), should be addressed by a doctor so that they don't interfere with conception. As for the boxers vs. briefs debate: There's no scientific answer to that question, but educated guesses land on the side of boxers [source: Levine].
If you'd like to learn more about fertility, check out the resources in our next section.
- Boyles, Salynn. "Obesity Linked to Infertility in Women." WebMD. Dec. 11, 2007. (June 6, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20071211/obesity-linked-to-infertility-in-women
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "About BMI for Adults." Sept. 13, 2011. (June 6, 2012) http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/index.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Overweight and Obesity." Nov. 17, 2011. (June 6, 2012) http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm
- Fertility Authority. "'The Biggest Loser' Olivia Ward Loses PCOS, Gains Fertility." (June 6, 2012) http://www.fertilityauthority.com/articles/biggest-loser-olivia-ward-loses-pcos-gains-fertility
- FitPregnancy. "Preconception Weight Loss." (June 6, 2012) http://www.fitpregnancy.com/fertility-conception/preconception-weight-loss
- Glines, Carole. "Giuliana Rancic Shares Her Fertility Struggles on 'The View'." Feb. 25, 2010. (June 6, 2012) http://www.okmagazine.com/news/giuliana-rancic-shares-her-fertility-struggles-view
- Levine, Deb. "Boxers or Briefs: Myths and Facts about Men's Infertility." WebMD. 1999. (June 6, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/guide/male-infertility-facts
- Macrae, Fiona. "Being too skinny damages fertility more than obesity." Daily Mail. Oct. 21, 2011. (June 6, 2012) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2051512/Being-skinny-damages-fertility-obesity.html
- MayoClinic. "Amenorrhea-Causes." May 17, 2011. (June 6, 2012) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/amenorrhea/DS00581/DSECTION=causes
- MayoClinic. "Female fertility: Why lifestyle choices count." May 5, 2012. (June 6, 2012) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/female-fertility/MY01095/NSECTIONGROUP=2
- MedlinePlus. "Polycystic Ovary Syndrome." (June 6, 2012) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/polycysticovarysyndrome.html
- Prevention. "Biggest Loser Olivia Ward: "An Amazing Woman"." Nov. 2011. (June 6, 2012) http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/biggest-loser/biggest-loser-weight-loss-success-story-olivia-ward
- ScienceDaily. "Obesity Reduces Chances Of Spontaneous Pregnancy In Women Who Are Subfertile But Ovulating Normally."Dec. 11, 2007. (June 6, 2012) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071211233947.htm
- University of Utah. "Aromatase Inhibitors in the Treatment of Male Infertility." Nov. 2011. (June 6, 2012) http://clinicaltrialsfeeds.org/clinical-trials/show/NCT00440180
- WebMD. "Estrogen Affects Fertility Window." Feb. 10, 2003. (June 6, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20030210/estrogen-affects-fertility-window
- WebMD. "Obesity Takes Toll on Sperm and Fertility." Oct. 22, 2004. (June 6, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20041022/obesity-takes-toll-on-sperm-fertility
- WomensHealth.gov. "Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) fact sheet." Mar. 17, 2010. (June 6, 2012) http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.cfm