Maximising the chance of conception – lifestyle factors within your control

When you’re trying to conceive, be it through IVF or naturally, it goes without saying that you’ll want to give yourself the very best chance of success. The chances of success in each treatment cycle, is very much dependent on the patient’s own set of personal characteristics such as cause of subfertility, reproductive history, lifestyle factors and most of all the woman’s age.  However there is still a great deal that you can change regarding your lifestyle to better improve your chances.

Here, we’ll take a look at how diet choices may have an influence your fertility levels.

To improve your chances of conceiving, it is important that you aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Not only will this help you to maintain a good sense of overall well-being in general, but keeping to nutritious, wholesome foods can markedly boost your fertility.

Additionally, eating properly will also help you to maintain a healthy weight. An article published in Mayo Clinic states that being overweight can adversely affect hormone production and hinder normal ovulation, giving extra reason to keep to a balanced diet. Recent research indicates that male obesity also has a significant impact on the chance of conception.

“As a woman’s weight increases above her healthy weight, her ovarian function and chances of conception decreases,” states Dr Guy Gudex of Repromed. “Important research also shows that the nutritional environment that an embryo is exposed to in the womb will affect the long term health of the resulting child such as the early onset of adult heart disease,” he concluded.

Figures released by the Ministry of Health reveal that nearly one in three New Zealand adults (31 per cent) are obese, with another 35 per cent overweight, which includes a lot of people who are trying to conceive.

According to the UK’s National Health Service, women that have a body mass index of more than 30 have a 50 per cent reduction in conceiving and have a higher chance of miscarriage. The ideal range is between 20-25 for getting pregnant. Thankfully, even an 5 per cent decrease in BMI has been shown to significantly improve IVF success rates, so aiming for small changes are worthwhile.

By eating a diet that includes ample amounts of fruit, vegetables, healthy fats and whole grains, you can help keep to an optimum weight and thus, improve the chances of conception. Foods with high levels of calcium, iron and folic acid are important for maintaining fertility. We recommend commercially available vitamin supplements specific for pregnancy preparation such as Menevit for men and Elevit for women.

Alcohol should be avoided completely and ideally no more than one caffeinated drink per day, which includes tea, coffee, and energy drinks.

People who smoke are 60 per cent less likely to conceive each month than non-smokers. Cigarette smoke both disrupts hormones and can damage DNA – even in light and passive smoking.  The effect of smoking in men shows adverse effects on sperm concentration and morphology, as well as a flow-on effect to the health of children born.  The use of recreational drugs such as marijuana in men is strongly discouraged as significant effects on semen are frequently noted.

Fertility New Zealand, an independent organisation, have a great section on lifestyle factors called ‘Be Fertility Fit’. You can read more here.

Get in touch with the team at Repromed to find out how we can help you conceive.

Megan Black

Nurse Manager


Megan leads the nursing team through the continually changing face of IVF. She works in a multidisciplinary team, providing the essential organization between the doctors and laboratory and ensuring communication between all departments.

Megan started her IVF nursing career in the United Kingdom, working in two large London clinic’s before returning to New Zealand. She is also the Secretary of Fertility Nurses of Australasia.

I love working with people and see nursing as a vocation, not a job. I usually spend my downtime absorbed in a good book and planning my next travel adventure.