If you are thinking of having a baby, experts suggest there are some lifestyle changes couples can make to improve their chances of conception.
NOW-fertility founder Professor Luciano Nardo shares his top three tips to help couples prepare for conception:
1. Start moving your body
Research has also found that men who did around three hours of exercise per week had 40 per cent higher sperm counts than those who were inactive. Exercise can reduce the risk of conditions including high blood pressure and depression, the medication for which can impact sexual function.
I recommend women do regular but not excessive exercise. Too much exercise can inhibit ovulation, which is needed for pregnancy. A sign of this is periods stopping.
2. Quit drinking and smoking
Bad habits over decades can create a cumulative negative effect on fertility.
Men should try to drink within the recommended alcohol intake limit, 14 units a week, and they should stop, or at least reduce, smoking. We see more and more young men come in with abnormal sperm parameters as a result of their lifestyle.
Women are born with millions of eggs. If they binge drink or smoke excessively, it has a cumulative effect that is likely to have an impact on the overall egg quality. Smoking can diminish ovarian reserve (the reproductive potential based on quantity and quality of eggs), with studies showing it takes twice as long for women who smoke to get pregnant.
Heavy alcohol use is also thought to affect ovarian reserve, as well as lead to ovulation disorders. Both smoking and drinking can decrease the likelihood of a fertilised egg implanting. And, if a woman does get pregnant, there is an increased risk of miscarriage or birth defects.
3. Reduce sperm overheating
Healthy sperm should be around 3°C below normal body temperature. Wearing tight clothing or having a laptop over the groin can increase risk of overheating.
A study has also shown that bakers, who are exposed to heat, and professional drivers were less likely to get their partners pregnant over six months than men in other jobs. If you work as a chef or a driver, then step back and take some breaks to avoid that increased testicular temperature that could affect sperm function.