tion Stories

Fertility and egg quality: Your lifestyle choices matter

For those women going through IVF treatment there is always an opportunity to have their fertility investigated, literally, under the microscope: how do their eggs look like, do embryos form and how good they are, eventually, what is the chance of these embryos leading to a pregnancy. 

Based on this, it has been a while since researchers have looked at the impact that lifestyle has on the quantity and quality of eggs and embryos, especially in women having assisted reproduction treatment with IVF, as various factors and behaviours can be tested and evaluated objectively, through observations in embryology laboratories. 

So far, various studies have highlighted the harmful effect of smoking, alcohol and refined sugar on egg quality and fertility. Not only the quality of eggs was found to be lower, the number of embryos forming following in vitro fertilization appears to be lower as well, while the chance of pregnancy decreases, at the same time. Regular smokers have difficulties to respond to hormonal treatments during IVF, as lower number of eggs are collected during stimulation, according to previous research. Such consequences may present even later on, during pregnancy, as studies have suggested that complications may be more common, as in the case of preterm birth and the relationship with regular consumption of artificially sweetened soft drinks.

Now, a fresh piece of research (1), has looked into more detail on a number of important lifestyle factors, all known to relate with fertility from previous studies. Researchers have analysed questionnaires given to women having IVF treatment just before they start hormonal treatment, asking about daily diet and in particular, consumption of fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat and refined sugar, as well as regular exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption. The findings of the new study confirm the importance of lifestyle in egg quality and chance of pregnancy following IVF treatment. Reduced egg quality and lower chance of getting pregnant after IVF treatment was noticed in women who smoke, regularly consume alcohol, or have daily use of refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. On the contrary, regular exercise, consumption of fruits and vegetables was associated with better egg quality and higher chance of pregnancy, as seen in previous studies as well.

regular exercise, consumption of fruits and vegetables was associated with better egg quality and higher chance of pregnancy

Collectively, the information we have so far, clearly shows how important it is to focus on lifestyle factors in women who are having IVF treatment. Highlighting harmful habits is the first step towards improving the chances of getting pregnant during IVF. Appropriate counseling will help women to quit certain behaviours and adopt a healthy lifestyle, bringing pregnancy even closer at the end of IVF treatment.


  1. A. Setti. “Maternal lifestyle and nutritional habits are associated with oocyte quality and ICSI clinical outcomes” 

©2021, Nicholas Christoforidis, Fertility Matters
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