Lifestyle-Related Factors Associated with Reproductive
Health in Couples Seeking Fertility Treatments:
Results of A Pilot Study
The objective of this pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility of conducting a larger prospective cohort study, which will aim at determining the independent contribution of male and female lifestyle-related factors to assisted reproductive technology (ART) success. The study also examined whether couples seeking fertility treatments present lifestyle-related factors that may interfere with their reproductive health.
Materials and Methods
This prospective pilot study was conducted in a fertility clinic between May 2015 and February 2016. Feasibility factors evaluated were recruitment rates, compliance with the protocol, retention rate and ART outcomes at six-month follow-up. Anthropometric profile and lifestyle habits of both partners were evaluated before the beginning of infertility treatments.
We approached 130 eligible infertile couples. Among them, 32 (25%) agreed to participate and 28 (88%) complied with the protocol. At six-month follow-up, seven couples (25%) did not start, or stop, infertility treatments and 13 couples (62%) achieved a clinical pregnancy. Among the 28 couples included in the analyses, 16% of the partners were obese and 23% had abdominal obesity. The majority of the subjects were still drinking alcohol (84%). Sixty-eight percent of women needed improvement in their diet (vs. 95% of men, P=0.05) and none of them achieved the Canadian recommendations for physical activity (vs. 33% of men, P=0.001). Moreover, 35% of the partners had a poor sleep quality. Overall, women presented a worse reproductive health profile than men, with 3.1 and 2.4 out of seven adverse factors, respectively (P=0.04).
Conducting a large prospective cohort study in our fertility clinic will be feasible but recruitment and compliance with the protocol need to be improved. Many women and men seeking fertility treatments present unfavourable lifestyle-related factors that may explain, at least partially, their difficulties in conceiving.