When you decide you are ready to conceive, it may be time to start making some lifestyle changes, experts tell WebMD.
"Stop drinking alcohol, or at least decrease it as much as possible because it is associated with both infertility and miscarriage risk," says fertility expert Randy S. Morris, MD, the medical director of IVF 1 in Chicago and Naperville, Ill.
According to the study, published in the July issue of Human Reproduction, smoking has a devastating effect on pregnancy rates of women undergoing fertility treatment. In fact, it results in their having the pregnancy potential of a woman 10 years older than their actual age. "That is giving a 29-year-old the pregnancy potential of a 39-year-old," Morris says.
Fertility is known to decrease with advancing age. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes interfere with the body's ability to create estrogen, a hormone that regulates ovulation, and cause women's eggs to be more prone to genetic abnormalities. Though some damage is irreversible, stopping smoking now can prevent further damage.
It's also important to steer clear of herbal remedies or supplements, he says. Some of them, such as echinacea (a popular immune-booster), can inhibit sperm penetration and may have real adverse effects. "At the very least, they are not studied, so the safest thing is to avoid them," he says.