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7 things you may not realize are affecting your fertility

For one in six Canadian couples, having children is a challenge. There are a number of factors that could contribute to this but no matter the reasons, struggling with infertility can be devastating.

May 7 to 13 marks Canadian Infertility Awareness Week, so we asked two experts to tell us everything we need to know. Fertility doctor Timea Belej Rak and naturopath Tanya Wylde co-wrote a book about how to increase chances of starting a family, and they sat down with Ben to share some of their knowledge.

Age is the number one factor for women, because they are born with all of their eggs. Men, on the other hand, produce sperm every three months.

Being too overweight or underweight can be an issue. It’s not that everyone who is overweight can’t get pregnant, but if you’re suffering from infertility and are overweight, losing even 10 per cent of your total body weight can increase your chances of getting pregnant because it can improve the health of your hormones and egg and sperm health. Being too thin can also negatively affect hormones, egg health and sperm health.

Smoking cigarettes can damage the egg health in women and sperm health in men, as well as the little hairs called villi that help the egg travel to the uterus, where it meets the sperm.

Women often take medications for headaches and other pains with the hormone shift around ovulation. The problem with this is if you’re trying to get pregnant and you take medication like ibuprofen, it prevents ovulation, making it difficult to get pregnant. Medications that lower your blood pressure can also significantly reduce sperm counts.

Stay away from sugar! It can cause hormone imbalances in women with PCOS—a big cause of infertility in women—, increase testosterone and prevent ovulation. It can also cause weight gain in both women and men.

Anything more than 150mg (more than a cup of coffee) a day can actually increase your risk of miscarriage.

Consuming foods with pesticides can literally kill your sperm and egg quality. If you’re not able to switch to organic foods, fruits and vegetables should still be the staple of your diet to get your folate, vitamins, phytonutrients and fiber.