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How Do Exercise, Weight, and Age Affect Fertility?

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Exercise

Exercise should be encouraged for both women and men who are gearing up to try to conceive. However, excessive, strenuous exercise in women may result in disruption of the ovulation cycle, thereby affecting her periods. Normal exercise has not been linked to miscarriages (loss of pregnancy), but certain forms of exercise (for example, high-impact or contact sports or scuba diving) should be avoided in pregnancy. In men, too much exercise may cause a low sperm count.

Weight and Fertility

A healthy diet is very important for women who are trying for a baby. Being overweight can affect a woman's fertility and can cause complications during pregnancy. A woman who is overweight and who is planning a pregnancy would be advised to lose weight before she conceives.

Weight loss with anorexia or bulimia can disrupt a woman's menstrual cycle and thereby reduce her chances of becoming pregnant.

Age and Fertility

A woman's peak fertility is in her early 20s. At age 35 and beyond (and particularly after 40), the likelihood of becoming pregnant reduces. As men age, levels of testosterone fall, and the volume and concentration of sperm change.

Healthy couples younger than 30 years who have regular sexual intercourse and use no contraception have a 25% to 30% chance of achieving pregnancy each month.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD, FACOG on June 21, 2012
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