Lifestyle Changes to Manage Infertility in Women

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Infertility in Women

Stay at a Healthy Body Weight

Women who are very thin and those who are overweight may have fertility problems. Low body weight disrupts hormonal function and can cause:

  • Anovulation—no ovulation
  • Oligomenorrhea—few menstrual periods
  • Amenorrhea —the lack of a menstrual period

Being overweight can also disrupt hormone levels and lead to irregular menstrual cycles.

Before you try to change your weight, you should talk with your doctor. You may need to see a dietitian to find out what weight range is right for you and how to get there. Eating a healthy, balanced diet in the months before pregnancy can help to support a healthy pregnancy.

Stop Smoking

If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.

Avoid Too Much Alcohol

Chronic, heavy drinking affects ovarian function. It can lead to irregular menstrual cycles, loss of ovulation, and cessation of menstruation. Remember that any drinking during pregnancy also raises the chance of birth defects.

Plan Sexual Activity According to Ovulation

Conception is more likely to happen when you have sex in the days around ovulation. You can find out when you are ovulating by taking your body temperature (at rest, when you first wake up) and writing it down on a chart. Your temperature drops just before ovulation, and then rises at ovulation and stays high during the second half of your cycle and during pregnancy. Think about buying an ovulation calendar to help you calculate your ovulation times. There are also kits that predict ovulation by testing your urine for the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge that happens just before ovulation. Ovulation usually happens 14 days before period flow. You will need to track several months of periods to find out the regular length of your cycle.

Manage Stress and Depression

Depression and high levels of stress hormones can affect ovarian function. To help lower mental and emotional stress, think about learning relaxation exercises, yoga or tai chi, or talking to a counselor about problems or stressful relationships in your life. Talk to your health care provider about which options may be best for you,. Get a referral to a stress management program.

When to Contact Your Doctor

  • If you are not sure if you need to gain or lose weight
  • If you need help with:
    • Creating a healthy, balanced diet
    • Quitting smoking
    • Abstaining from alcohol
    • Finding out when ovulation happens during your cycles
    • Depression or other mood problems

References:

Infertility fact sheet. Office on Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated August 30, 2018. Accessed December 31, 2018.
Infertility in women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated November 6, 2018. Accessed December 31, 2018.
Overview of infertility. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated March 2017. Accessed December 31, 2018.
Patient history taking: major systems of the body. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: https://www.ebscoh.... Updated March 30, 2018. Accessed December 31, 2018.
Treating infertility. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated October 2017. Accessed January 2, 2019.
Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 1/2/2019

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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