That cigarette you only smoke ‘socially’
Smoking wreaks havoc on both male and female fertility, but it’s particularly harmful for women, says David Diaz, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and fertility expert at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in California. “Tobacco contains over 250 byproducts known to be oocyte toxic,” he explains. “The effect is so severe that we’ve found these toxins polluting the egg environment, inside the follicle of the ovary.” Smoking shortens your fertile years, bringing on menopause an average of five years earlier. Men don’t escape the ill effects either, says Philip Werthman, MD, director of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Vasectomy Reversal in Los Angeles. “Men who are trying to father a child should not smoke at all, ever,” he says. The secondhand smoke can poison the mother of his child. And, he says, this goes double for pot smoking. “Smoking marijuana is horrendous. It’s basically an unfiltered cigarette.”
Those extra pounds on the scale
Your fertility is just one of many of your body’s systems that suffer when you fill up on junk food and forget to exercise. In addition to raising your risk of illnesses like diabetes and cancer that could affect infertility, weight gain also has subtler effects on fertility. For both men and women, the more fat you carry, the more estrogen your body produces, and out-of-whack hormones are a leading cause of infertility in both genders, both doctors say. In overweight women, extra weight can cause insulin resistance, which leads to a decrease in the quality of eggs and the frequency of ovulation, Dr. Diaz says. While in obese men, the extra body weight overheats the testicles, which decreases sperm quality, Dr. Werthman says. Here are 7 more silent signs of infertility all couples should know.