Things to avoid when you want to conceive

 trouble conceiving

Avoid tight clothing

For males:

Restrictive clothing such as skinny jeans or spandex will increase the testicle temperature which is harmful to the production and survival of the sperm cells. When the testes are too hot, the testes will have trouble producing sperm. This will eventually lead to a decrease in the sperm count and sperm motility, which refers to the ability of the sperm to move. This reduces the chance for your partner to get pregnant.

Abstain from alcohol

Fertility in both women and men can be affected by alcohol. It may also have a negative impact on the development of the foetus even when conception is successful. Couples should avoid alcohol consumption when they try to conceive a child.

Male fertility can be negatively affected by alcohol consumption. Alcohol may destroy sperm-generating cells in the testicles and therefore decrease the sperm count. It will also cause an increase in abnormally-shaped sperms and lower sperm motility. All these factors will result in lowered fertility. A man should try to abstain from drinking for at least 3 months before trying to have a child with his partner.

Females should also avoid consuming alcohol before and during pregnancy. Alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk for miscarriage, impaired foetal growth and development, premature birth and stillbirth. Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with foetal alcohol syndrome which is characterized by growth deficiency, mental retardation, behavioural disturbances and an atypical heart-shaped facial appearance in the baby born of an alcoholic mother.

In addition, congenital heart defects, brain anomalies are also often found in these babies due to the sustained ill effects of alcohol consumed by the mother before or during pregnancy. This syndrome occurs in 30 to 40 percent of newborns born to women who are alcoholics. It is therefore important for a woman to stop alcohol consumption when she tries to conceive and during her pregnancy.

Reduce your caffeine consumption

Caffeine has been shown to delay conception. Women with high caffeine consumption (more than or equal to 300mg per day) take a longer time to conceive as compared to women who consume little or no caffeine.

Caffeine also increases insulin resistance, affects muscle contractions of the fallopian tubes and induces mineral loss. These factors all contribute to lower fertility.

Click here to learn more on how caffeine affects fertility.

Avoid having electronic products near your groin

Using laptops, tablets or digital pads on the laps and keeping mobile phones in pockets may affect male fertility.

Electromagnetic radiation are generated by these electronic devices, and this radiation heats up the scrotum where sperm production and development take place. When the temperature of the scrotum is raised, normal sperm production and quality of the sperm such as its mobility and viability may be lowered. Balancing the laptop on the lap can raise the temperature of the scrotum by about 2.7 Degree Celsius.

To avoid damaging fertility, men should:

  • keep your electronics devices as far away from the scrotum as possible
  • avoid placing your laptop or iPads on your lap
  • avoid keeping your mobile phone in your pocket
  • keep a distance between your mobile phone and scrotum when you are texting

No smoking

Lowered fertility

Smoking is not only harmful to your health in several ways, but it is also associated with lower sperm quality. In a study conducted by Ramlau-Hansen et al, it was found that cigarette smokers had lower semen volume, sperm count and percentage of motile sperm compared to men who did not smoke. It was concluded that smoking resulted in deterioration of semen quality.

Several other studies also support this study. Zhang et al. had also found that smokers had lower semen volume, sperm concentrations and rates of forward progression as compared to non-smokers.

Hence, it is recommended that men who want to have a child with their partner should avoid smoking to maintain optimal fertility.

Smoking is harmful for the foetus

Cigarettes contain chemicals such as nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar which are dangerous for the foetus. Smoking increases the risk of early miscarriage, stillbirth and low birth weight. It can also lead to developmental problems in the baby.

Nicotine can cause contractions in the fallopian tubes. These contractions may result in an ectopic pregnancy, which refers to when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the uterus, either in the fallopian tubes or the abdomen. This can be fatal for both the mother and child.

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of defects in the baby. The most common birth defects include congenital heart defects and problems with the structure of the heart.

If you are a smoker and you plan to conceive a child with your partner, you can seek help to quit smoking.


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Ramlau-Hansen CH, Thulstrup AM, Aggerholm AS, Jensen MS, Toft G, Bonde JP. Is smoking a risk factor for decreased semen quality? A cross-sectional analysis. Hum Reprod. 2007;22(1):188–188.

Zhang JP, Meng QY, Wang Q, Zhang LJ, Mao YL, Sun ZX. Effect of smoking on semen quality of infertile men in Shandong, China. Asian J Androl. 2000;2(2):143–143.

WILEY. (n.d.). Wiley: Why Caffeine Can Reduce Fertility in Women. Retrieved from


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