The choices that both men and women make in their daily lives can have a positive or negative impact on their fertility.

There is strong evidence that unhealthy habits, such as smoking and alcohol abuse, can impair fertility. On the contrary, adopting a healthy lifestyle seems to increase the chances of conception. The number and quality of egg and sperm production can be improved if you follow some simple rules:



We are referring here to excessive stress and not the usual stress that most people experience when dealing with everyday problems. When stress is particularly elevated it can negatively affect fertility, disrupting the hormonal balance in the male and female genital system. Particularly during an IVF attempt, it is common for a couple to worry about the outcome. However, it is worth trying to control the level of anxiety they are feeling, as there are indications that an optimistic attitude helps achieve the goal.



Both increased and extremely reduced body weight can affect fertility in both sexes. It is known, for example, that obese women who do not ovulate can, by losing weight, improve their cycle and conceive naturally. Returning to the normal for each body level can lead to physical conception and increase the success rates of an IVF attempt. A healthy diet, that is a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits and vegetables, low fat products and increased consumption of legumes, fish and white meat, as well as avoiding fried food helps both conception and pregnancy.



The negative effect of nicotine and other tobacco substances on the DNA of ova and sperm has been demonstrated. In addition, the habit of smoking may accelerate menopause and therefore the ability to conceive as fertility gradually decreases with age. Quitting smoking can improve fertility, both through physical conception and assisted reproduction processes. IVF success rates are significantly better in non-smoking couples, compared to smokers.



Exercise helps to lose weight, control stress, lower blood pressure and insulin levels in the blood. Although it has not been proven that fitness is directly linked to improved fertility, its positive effect on good health offers indirect benefits to the couple’s relationship, quality and frequency of sexual intercourse and, thus, increases their chances of conception. On the contrary, intensive training that challenges the body’s stamina may disrupt ovulation in women and sperm production in men.



The effect of alcohol on the fertility of men and women is directly related to the amount consumed. Many studies have shown that restricted consumption of red wine (one or two small glasses a day) can improve cardiovascular function. However, greater alcohol consumption has a negative health impact, with the risk of multiplying as the amount increases. Potential liver damage due to alcohol abuse can negatively affect both sexes, and especially in women, excessive alcohol consumption increases their chances of miscarriage.



Do you feel that coffee stimulates you and enhances your performance? No problem, as long as you don’t overdo it. Two or three cups of coffee a day does not seem to harm the body and especially the reproductive system. It is useful, however, to know that caffeine is found not only in coffee but also in tea, chocolate and cola. All of the above accumulate caffeine in the body and therefore must be consumed with moderation, as the intake of the substance in large quantities has been found to adversely affect – among others – reproductive capacity.



Drug dependence is a problem whose consequences – social, health, work, etc. – are not limited to reducing the likelihood of conception. Research has shown, however, that the use of substances may also affect fertility.



Certain medicines, such as antidepressants, some painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, can cause fertility problems. In any case, while trying to conceive, it is advisable to talk to your doctor before taking any medicine.

Pesticides have also been linked to disorders in the reproductive system. For this reason, it is essential to carefully wash fruits and vegetables before eating them.

Fertility problems can also be caused by exposure to chemical agents – including dyes, cleaners, solvents and certain chemicals, such as phthalates that are linked to a decline in sperm quality, but also to premature menopause.

The Doctor

Dr. Nikolopoulos maintains a private practice in ATHENS, while collaborating exclusively with MITERA’s maternity hospital and the new HYGEIA IVF Athens Assisted Reproduction Unit. At the same time, he is in charge of the Fertility and In Vitro Fertilization clinic at City Hospital, in the city of KALAMATA.