Lifestyle Advice

General Health Guidance

Although our laboratory will provide the best environment for your eggs, sperm and embryos, probably the most important investment towards their quality can be made by yourselves, as a number of factors have been shown to reduce the quality of eggs and sperm. Sperm and eggs are made over a prolonged period so the modification of lifestyle must be considered as a long term investment.


Smoking reduces ovarian reserve, sperm quality (increased sperm DNA damage) and has been shown to reduce fertilization and embryo developmental potential, resulting in lower pregnancy rates.


Excess alcohol intake adversely affects sperm function.


Excessive body weight increases

  • The amount of drugs needed during treatment
  • Miscarriage rate, and risks to the mother during pregnancy (DVT, high blood pressure)
  • The risk of the baby having spina bifida or a heart problem

In GCRM-BELFAST we advise all patients to have a Body Mass Index (BMI) less than 33 kg/m2 prior to treatment.


Good quality scientific studies into the effect of diet on fertility are lacking. However, foods with anti-oxidant properties like fruit and vegetables may be beneficial to both eggs and sperm as they protect against oxidative stress which can be harmful. It is sensible, therefore, to eat a wide variety of ‘healthy’ foods as part of your lifestyle.


Moderate and regular exercise can improve your general health which may improve your chances of success with treatment.


Folic acid, if taken before becoming pregnant and during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, will reduce the risk of a baby developing a neural tube defect. You should take folic acid 400 micrograms (400 µg) every day in addition to what you get from your diet until 14 weeks’ gestation. Folic acid can be bought in chemists, many supermarkets and in health food stores.

Similarly, Vitamin D, is beneficial to both the pregnant woman and her developing baby.