LIFESTYLE FACTORS Alcohol Caffeine and Smoking for Infertility

Most of the research investigating the effect of alcohol and caffeine on fertility has been done in women. And, as you read earlier, both substances, even in moderation, can reduce a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. The effect on male fertility is less clear. Italian researchers found that the risk of having unhealthy sperm increased with the number of cups of coffee per day, compared to the risk in men who had one or fewer cups of coffee daily. The same study showed that alcohol drinkers were at greater risk of having abnormal sperm, and the risk increased with the number of drinks per day.17

If your partner is a smoker, one of the most important behavior changes he can make to improve your odds of getting pregnant is to give up cigarettes. Study after study has shown that the harmful chemicals inhaled from cigarettes reduce sperm count, impair the health of sperm and decrease sexual performance. There’s little doubt that cigarette smoking increases a man’s odds of being infertile. Suggest that your spouse visit his family doctor to learn options available to help him quit smoking.

The Bottom Line…

Leslie’s recommendations for enhancing fertility

1. To ensure an optimal intake of calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals, both you and your partner should follow the healthiest diet possible. Consider consulting a registered dietitian who can assess your diet and develop a customized eating and supplement plan for both of you. Check out www.eatright .org to find a professional in your community.

2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, two beverages that may affect female fertility.

3. Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

4. Both you and your partner should make sure you are getting proper amounts of vitamin B12.

5. If you have been experiencing irregular periods, consider the herbal remedy chasteberry (Vitex angus-castus). Take 175 to 225 milligrams of an extract standardized to contain 0.5 percent agnuside and 0.6 percent aucubin, once daily.

6. Make sure your male partner consumes plenty of antioxidant nutrients. The ones to pay attention to are vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium.

7. Have your partner assess his intake of zinc from foods.

8. L-carnitine is a natural compound found in animal food and made by the body that may be important for male fertility. If you want to give this a try, your partner should take 1 to 3 grams of L-carnitine daily. Avoid products that contain D-carnitine or DL-carnitine.

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