Five fertility risks you may not have considered, from working in an office to being a chef

Both men and women can improve their fertility with lifestyle changes

Kashmira Gander
Monday 26 September 2016 17:40 BST
Theresa May has promised to reform mental health legislation
Theresa May has promised to reform mental health legislation (iStock)

As many as 3.5million people in the UK have infertility issues, and factors from age, to genetics and their environment can affect a person’s chance of conceiving.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by exercising and eating nutritious food are important for fertility, however other day-to-day factors and issues are less well known, says Dr Geetha Venkat, specialist at the Harley Street Fertility Clinic who has been helping patients to conceive for over two decades.

Below are some risk factors that affect fertility which you might not be aware of. If any of these concern you, you shoudl visit your doctor.

Vitamin D deficiency

Millions of people in the UK are at risk of vitamin D deficiency, according to the public health body NICE.

Vitamin D is absorbed from the sun - which people in the UK don't see an awful lot of - as well as in some oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods, according to the NHS.

It was recently discovered that a lack of vitamin D can cause miscarriages and problems with ovulation in women, and sperm function in men. Dr Venkat adds that taking multivitamins does not top up levels enough, but vitamin D tablets can correct the issue.

Working in a kitchen

Dr Venkat describes the scrotum as a kind of air conditioning system for the testes, as they keep the organs and sperm away from bodyheat. So, as chefs stand near hot ovens and cookers for long periods of time, the testicles are exposed to higher temperatures.

Using a laptop

Similarly to chefs, heat emitted from a laptop can affect fertility if it is transmitted to the scrotum and testes, says Dr Venkat. However, she stresses it is the heat not the technology that causes problems, so keeping a phone in your pocket is believed to be safe.


Cycling for prolonged periods of time – particularly at a competitive level – can affect the product and quality of the sperm, says Dr Venkat. Studies show that cycling moderately, for example to and from work, will likely not affect your chances of conceiving.

Working in an office

Or any other job where you are sedentary. Dr Venkat says it is important to ensure you move regularly as this will ensure that toxins are effectively processed by the body and away from the reproductive organs.

Exercising, therefore, can help to rid the body of toxins.

Gum disease

Dr Venkat says patients are sometimes shocked when she suggests they visit the dentise. But gum disease and dental infections can affect a woman's fertility by harming the embryo.

Chronic illnesses

Conditions such as obesity, stress, and depression can all change a person’s fertility levels by affecting hormones and in turn ovulation and sperm quality.

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