Change these six factors to improve fertility

2 minute read

Women’s chances of conceiving increase by a third if they make key lifestyle changes, research suggests.

Making six key lifestyle changes increase woman’s chances of conceiving by 34%, new research suggests.

Researchers investigated how much weight, diet, tobacco, alcohol, folic acid supplements and maternal age affect fertility.

A risk score based those fertility factors could predict women’s chances of conceiving, according to the research in JAMA Network Open.

More than 900 women completed questionnaires and were given one point for each of six factors: being underweight or overweight, eating less than two servings of vegetables a day, a history of regular smoking, drinking more than one standard alcoholic drink a week, not taking folic acid supplements and being 32 years or older.

Scores ranged from zero for the healthiest and youngest, to six for the least healthy and oldest.

The participants were contacted to check whether they had conceived at three, six and 12 months after recruitment. In the first year, 42% of women had conceived.

“If all participants had a level one risk score, the overall incidence of non-conception within a year would be reduced by 34%,” the Singapore researchers said.

“This tool can be self-administered to empower individuals or couples to mitigate their risks as they plan for their families and to guide health care practitioners in making recommendations for those who are trying to conceive.”

The researchers found that with each increase by one point in the risk score, fertility was reduced by 23%.

Compared with participants with a level one risk score, women with risk scores of two, three, four and five had reductions in fecundability of 31%, 41%, 54% and 77% respectively, they said.

“An increasing pattern of age, alcohol intake, and BMI and a decreasing pattern of vegetable intake were observed across the risk score levels.”

The research highlighted the importance of making positive lifestyle changes in women who are trying to conceive, said Associate Professor Alex Polyakov, fertility specialist at the University of Melbourne.

“By understanding how different lifestyle factors can impact fertility, women can make informed decisions about how to increase their chances of getting pregnant,” Professor Polyakov said in a statement. 

“Additionally, healthcare providers can use this information to guide women in making positive lifestyle changes, which can help improve their fertility.”

“The score developed by the researchers could be a valuable tool for women trying to get pregnant, helping them understand how they can improve their chances of conceiving.”

JAMA Network Open 2023, online 7 February

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