Preconception Health and Fertility

Preconception Health and Fertility

Click here to learn about how preconception health can affect fertility and the lifestyle choices you can make to have a healthier reproductive system and pregnancy.

Preconception health, or a person’s health before becoming pregnant, plays a foundational role in fertility and chance of conception. Certain foods, lifestyle habits, and medications have been shown to harm fertility and if you’re pregnant already, the unborn fetus.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports that everyone should be thinking about their health regardless of if whether they’re planning a pregnancy, because about half of all pregnancies are unplanned. Inadequate preconception health increases the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight babies.

That said, there are a ways to support your preconception health, including:

  • Stop smoking and decrease alcohol intake.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about any over-the-counter or prescription medication you’re using.
  • Avoid contact with toxic substances or materials.
  • Maintain a nutritious, balanced diet.
  • Stay physically active.
  • Get enough sleep.

It's important that you discuss your preconception health with your medical provider. They may be able to give you recommendations specific to your individual needs.

Preconception health also involves having a healthy partner. Men can improve their preconception and reproductive health (and overall health) by making similar lifestyle changes, including limiting alcohol, quitting smoking, avoiding recreational substance use, having a healthy diet, and limiting stress.

Making these lifestyle changes at least three months before conception will help ensure that your sperm is healthier. Although your body produces millions of new sperm each day, it takes them approximately three months to fully mature. The production and maturation process of sperm is known as spermatogenesis.

It may be worthwhile to make some healthy lifestyle changes for both reproductive health and overall well-being. If you’re having trouble conceiving, speak to a healthcare provider.