Typically it can be hard to draw conclusions between our lifestyle choices and our ability to conceive, but here we’ll surface the best studies, highlight their strengths and weaknesses and interpret the findings.
Before we dive in a few quick disclaimers:
First, many of these studies don’t help us disentangle coincidence from causality. Unless a study modifies a behavior and tracks the impact on fertility, we are often left to guess whether changing a behavior (like a reduction in drinking) improves a person’s ability to conceive.
Second, while some studies may suggest there is limited harm in certain behaviors (like having one drink per day while trying to conceive naturally), the reality is that it’s often safest abstain from drinking or similar behaviors even if our tools of study (clinical trials and statistical analysis) tell us a behavior is fine.
Third, much of the studies to this point have been focused on females, but there is very real reason to believe that male lifestyle choices impact a couple’s ability to conceive. Unfortunately, most of our studies on how lifestyle impacts male fertility use semen parameters, rather than pregnancies or births, as an outcome. That’s unsatisfying because a change in semen parameters, unless drastic, often does not correlate to a change in fertility.
Fourth, while much of the lessons focus on which behaviors & characterics correlate to a woman’s ability to conceive, equally as important are the decisions a woman makes after she has conceived. The lifestyle decisions a woman makes during pregnancy impact the genes her child inherits and passes down to their own children.
Okay, with that, let’s dive in.