image bio

We made too much! Get 50% off select items in our sale category while supplies last, use code OVERSTOCK. Shop Now.

Login / Sign Up up to see rewards balance

0 Item(s) in the shopping cart
Home > Learn > Getting Pregnant > >How Does Environment, Diet, and Lifestyle Influence Fertility?

How Does Environment, Diet, and Lifestyle Influence Fertility?

Nov 20, 19 3 min

Dr. Audrey Gaskins explains the environmental factors that affect reproductive health and some nutritional guidelines to positively affect chances of conception.

 By Dr. Audrey Gaskins

Tell us about your work.

I study how environmental, dietary, and lifestyle factors influence fertility and reproductive health in men and women. I became interested in this area during a post-baccalaureate fellowship at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) when I realized how little we knew about this topic despite the fact that outcomes like infertility and pregnancy loss are incredibly common.

How do scientists measure reproductive health in men and women?

We can study reproductive health outcomes starting at pubertal development all the way to reproductive senescence and everything in between. In my work, I mostly focus on markers of fecundity such as time to pregnancy and infertility (defined as trying for 12 months or longer to get pregnant without success) and markers of fertility such as live birth and pregnancy loss.   

Have you identified environmental factors that affect these measures?

My work has shown that women exposed to higher levels of air pollution, particularly from traffic, have a higher risk of pregnancy loss and lower success with infertility treatments. Higher exposure to fine particulate matter, a component of air pollution, may also accelerate reproductive aging in women.

In addition to air pollution, our group has shown that higher exposure to phthalates, a class of endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in everything from food manufacturing materials to personal care products, is linked to lower ovarian reserve and lower likelihood of live birth following IVF. We’ve also shown that consumption of fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticides is associated with lower semen quality in men and higher risk of pregnancy loss in women.  

What are some nutritional changes women can make to positively affect their chances of conception?

There are five main dietary recommendations I give to female friends and family who want to enhance their chances of conception: 

  1. Take a daily prenatal/multivitamin that contains at least 800 mcg of folate, 15 mcg of vitamin B12, and 1000 IU of vitamin D. (The Natalist Prenatal meets this criteria!)
  2. Consume at least three low-mercury seafood meals a week. If you cannot do this, take an omega-3 fatty-acid supplement
  3. Prioritize eating fruits and vegetables, and always choose organic varieties for the dirtiest dozen produce.
  4. Incorporate whole grains into your diet, ideally two servings a day. 
  5. Avoid fast food. 

✨ Shop Prenatal Daily Packets⟶

Are these nutritional changes the same for men and women?

For men, there is little evidence supporting specific nutritional supplements so my main advice is to eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables (prioritizing organic for the dirty dozen), whole grains, and seafood. For both men and women, alcohol and caffeine intake in moderation is fine. 

If you could tell the TTC community just one thing, what would it be?

Be careful what you read on the internet. There are many under qualified people out there claiming to be experts on nutrition and fertility. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you are ever in doubt, do your own research or ask a doctor for a second opinion.

Interested in learning more on how to improve your likelihood of getting pregnant? Read Dr. Liz Kane's Tips to Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant This Month.

Shop Products

Bestseller
sticker bestseller

Prenatal Daily Packets

Vegan prenatal daily packets

$60

Natalist Favorite
Subscribe & Save $2.00 sticker favorite

The Lube

Bestselling fertility-friendly lubricant

$23

Bestseller
sticker bestseller

Prenatal Gummies

Evidence-backed & delicious prenatal gummies

$35

Bestseller
sticker bestseller

Early Pregnancy Test Strips

As low as $0.96 per test strip

$74 $16

Bestseller
sticker bestseller

Early Pregnancy Test Strips

As low as $0.96 per test strip

$74 $16

Bestseller
sticker save

The Test Strip Pack

Bundle & save with our earth-friendlier test strips

$37

Natalist Favorite
sticker favorite

Ovulation Test Kit

50% off with code OVERSTOCK

$25

sticker bestseller

Pregnancy Tests (4-Count)

As low as $3.20 per test

$16

sticker save

Cycle Support Bundle

Bundle & save on cycle regularity support‡

$85 $75

Natalist Favorite
sticker favorite

TTC Gummy Bundle

Prenatal gummies for TTC (trying to conceive)

$100 $90

Bestseller
sticker save

The Test Strip Pack

Bundle & save with our earth-friendlier test strips

$37

sticker save

Pregnancy Gift Basket

Gift set for a mom-to-be

$110 $99