In a nutshell
This study looked at how lifestyle factors before fertility treatment affect the results of in vitro fertilization (IVF). It found that moderate drinking prior to beginning IVF did not affect IVF outcomes. It also found that heavy smoking prior to IVF and high levels of exercise may reduce pregnancy rates.
Diet, exercise, alcohol, and smoking are some of the most important lifestyle factors affecting overall health. Alcohol and smoking during pregnancy worsen outcomes, causing premature birth and birth defects. Some studies have found that alcohol and smoking reduce fertility, although other studies have not found an impact.
IVF is a form of medically assisted reproduction. A cycle of IVF begins with taking medications to stimulate the ovaries. Later, eggs are collected and the fertilized embryos implanted in the uterus. It is not clear whether lifestyle factors such as alcohol and tobacco use prior to starting an IVF cycle affect pregnancy rates.
Methods & findings
This study included 492 couples undergoing IVF or a related procedure, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). All women were advised to abstain from alcohol and tobacco starting at the beginning of their IVF cycle. The couples were interviewed on the day of egg collection. The outcomes of their IVF cycles were followed.
Standard surveys were used to interview women about their usual diet over the past year. This included their typical alcohol intake prior to the start of the IVF cycle. 5.7% of women reported at least one standard serving per day, which was the highest amount measured. After adjusting for other factors, all measured levels of drinking led to similar pregnancy rates.
Women were also surveyed about their smoking habits prior to IVF. Someone who used at least one cigarette per day was considered to smoke. Women who smoked had similar pregnancy and birth rates to women who had never smoked or had quit smoking at least a year before IVF. Women who used at least 20 cigarettes per day were said to smoke heavily. After adjusting for other factors, women who smoked heavily tended to have lower pregnancy rates (57% lower chance) and birth rates (39% lower chance) than women who had never smoked.
There was no significant difference in IVF outcomes for women who exercised 2-4 hours per week compared to less than 2 hours per week. Women who exercised more than 5 hours per week had significantly lower pregnancy rates (56% lower chance) than those who exercised less than 2 hours.
The bottom line
This study found that heavy smoking and long periods of exercise before fertility treatment may worsen IVF outcomes. It also found that moderate drinking prior to IVF does not impact outcomes.
The fine print
This study took place in Italy, where alcohol with meals is common and it is not routine to stop drinking prior to IVF. The study did not account for the male partner’s smoking, or whether either partner successfully quit smoking after starting IVF.
Ask your doctor about the right amount of exercise during your fertility treatment. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting. There are medications, behavioral therapies, and nicotine replacements available to assist the process.
Published By :
Nov 26, 2020