Women's reproductive health

Reproductive Health & Diet

By: Kate Cottrell

If you are looking forward to starting a family in the future, maintaining a healthy lifestyle may improve your chances of conceiving when the time comes, and boost your overall health and well being.  Maintain a healthy weight – carrying too many pounds or being significantly underweight can interfere with hormone levels and normal ovulation. Eat a sensible diet to help you stay at your ideal body weight,1 and consider healthier food choices that may also influence fertility.2

A 2007 analysis of diet and fertility noted, lower rates of infertility among women who chose more monounsaturated fats over trans-fats, vegetable over animal protein, high-fat over low-fat dairy, and foods with a lower rather than a higher glycemic index2 (eg, choose more fruits and vegetables and fewer potatoes, rice, and noodles).3

 Lifestyle approaches1,2

  • Reduce your stress.
  • Keep caffeine consumption to the equivalent of 2 cups of coffee daily.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid smoking – this habit can age your ovaries and deplete your supply of eggs. Talk to your doctor about getting help quitting.
  • Use safe sex strategies such as condoms to avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause infertility in both men and women.

Women who take iron and multivitamins regularly seem to have lower rates of infertility related to problems with ovulation. Women preparing to conceive should consider taking a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid.1 Finally, don’t wait too long to start trying – a woman’s chances of conceiving may be as high 71% when she is younger than age 30, compared with only 41% when she is over age 36.2


  1. Female fertility – Why lifestyle choices count. May 05, 2012. http://www.mayoclinic.org/female-fertility/art-20045887?pg=2
  2. Sharma R et al. Lifestyle factors and reproductive health: taking control of your fertility. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2013, 11:66. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3717046/pdf/1477-7827-11-66.pdf
  3. Glycemic index diet: What’s behind the claims – Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/glycemic-index-diet/art-20048478.

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