There could are a number of reasons why you’re finding it difficult to conceive. Here’s four major lifestyle factors that you can control:

1. Extreme exercise

Extreme exercise can make it harder to get pregnant

Exercise keep you strong, slim and energetic but it’s possible to overdo it: “If you’re working out too much it can have a negative impact on ovulation,” says William Schlaff, MD, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia.

A 2012 study published in Fertility and Sterility found that normal-weight women who exercised vigorously for more than five hours a week found it more difficult to get pregnant.


Stick to low-key exercise (think yoga, brisk walking or leisurely swimming).

2. Overweight or underweight

Being overweight can contribute to difficulty getting pregnant

“Being too heavy or too thin can disrupt hormonal function,” says Tami Quinn, co-founder of Pulling Down the Moon, a leading holistic clinic of integrative care for infertility.

A study conducted at Michigan State University examined pregnancy rates in 50,000 women undergoing assisted reproductive technology procedures. The study showed that women with a body mass index (BMI) of over 40, compared to the normal BMI of 18.5 to 24.9, were 35% less likely to become pregnant. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get pregnant if overweight, but it does make things more difficult.

Underweight women may not ovulate, have a menstrual cycle, or enough fat for proper hormonal balance, all of which prevent pregnancy.


Maintaining a healthy diet and sticking to a low-key exercise routine will do wonders for your mind and body. If overweight, know that even a small amount of weight loss may increase your chances to get pregnant. But avoid crash dieting as it’s not good for your physical or emotional health.

3. Stress

Stress can make it more difficult to get pregnant

Stress plays a role in overall health, including infertility. Stress could mean you ovulate later than usual in your menstrual cycle, or not at all. This condition is called stress-induced anovulation.

The good news is that stress-induced delays to ovulation shouldn’t prevent you from getting pregnant. That is, as long as you are having sex every two to three days throughout your cycle. Stress can, however, make you feel less interested in having sex, so it’ll benefit you work through your emotions.


Make changes in your life where possible so that you feel more relaxed. Eating healthily, exercising and yoga or meditation can all help to reduce stress. Or maybe you need some time away with your partner to help you conceive.

4. Smoking

Smoking can make it more difficult to get pregnant.

Smokers take longer to conceive than non-smokers and are more likely to have fertility problems. In fact, even passive smoking (inhaling someone else’s smoke) is only slightly less harmful to fertility than active smoking.


Quit. The good news here is that the effects of smoking (both legal and illegal substances) are, in some cases, reversible. A few months before trying to conceive you should kick the habit and get both you and your partners bodies ready for what’s ahead. The healthier you are, the better equipped you’ll be to conceive and maintain a healthy pregnancy.

Read more: Tips For Getting Pregnant

Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley