You’re trying to start your family. But you still have a life, too! You want to see your friends and continue to have fun while you’re on your fertility journey.
At Reproductive Health Center, we highly encourage you to have fun, and not to put your whole life on hold while you try to get pregnant. However, some of the choices you make could have a huge impact on your chances of getting pregnant, and on the health of your baby if you do. Here are a few things to be aware of.
Drinking alcohol is a common social activity, and if you’re out with friends, you’ll likely be tempted to have a few drinks. A Swedish study found that women drinking two drinks a day reduced their fertility by 60%. Studies have been mixed on whether low to moderate levels of alcohol consumption affect fertility, but there’s reason to believe that it has an effect. Alcohol can reduce your fertility via multiple mechanisms, including inducing hormonal changes, depleting your body of micronutrients, and creating toxins. These apply to men too, so reducing the amount of alcohol consumed by both members of the couple is ideal.
Additionally, when you do become pregnant, drinking alcohol can have multiple negative effects on your baby. You won’t even know you’re pregnant until about two weeks into the pregnancy, so the safest bet is to avoid alcohol while you’re trying to conceive. You can still go out with your friends if you’re not drinking – and you can even help your friends be safer, by becoming their designated driver.
By now, virtually everyone is aware that smoking is bad for your health. Most people are also aware that smoking cigarettes while you’re pregnant is especially harmful for the baby. However, you may not be aware that smoking is also strongly related to infertility.
Smoking cigarettes damages both sperm and eggs, causing problems that make fertilization more difficult. Additionally, smoking causes changes in a woman’s body that may make it harder for an embryo to successfully implant in the uterus. It’s best if both the prospective mother and father quit smoking before trying to conceive, because smoking affects both partners’ fertility, and because if the man smokes while the woman doesn’t, his secondhand smoke will affect the woman and the baby.
Marijuana has increasingly gained acceptance in society, both for medical use and for recreational use. It’s legal to use marijuana recreationally in a few states and medically in several others, and many people use it even where it isn’t legal. If you choose pot as a way to relax, could it affect your fertility?
Scientific research has concluded that marijuana does impair fertility, in both men and women. The active ingredient in marijuana, a chemical called THC, affects sperm, changing their shape and their swimming patterns in ways that make them less able to fertilize an egg. When a man smokes marijuana, his sperm are affected; however, when a woman smokes marijuana, the THC in her system enters her reproductive tract and affects the sperm as they enter her body. This is why smoking marijuana should be avoided by both members of a couple when they’re trying to conceive.
You Can Still Have Fun!
At first, you might be unhappy to learn that you can’t have alcohol, cigarettes, or marijuana while you’re trying to conceive. After all, infertility is stressful, and you want to blow off some steam. We encourage you to continue to spend time with your trusted friends, because social support can be a crucial stress-reliever. Just change what you do. Maybe you’d like to go to a concert instead of a bar, or go to a movie instead of smoking a joint in front of the TV. Your friends will understand your need to change your habits during this important time in your life. Also, don’t be afraid to seek out new friends, who are also experiencing the challenge of infertility; you can understand and support each other.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself in other ways, too. Getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, and managing your stress levels are all important steps that can improve your fertility and your chances of a healthy pregnancy – not to mention helping you have energy to enjoy life!