Preconceptual care for couples seeking fertility treatment, an evidence-based approach

Review Article

VOLUME 2, ISSUE 1, P57-74, JANUARY 01, 2021


Elpiniki Chronopoulou, M.Sc., M.R.C.O.G., Amelia Seifalian, M.B.B.S., Judith Stephenson, F.F.P.H., Paul Serhal, F.R.C.O.G., Wael Saab, M.D., M.R.C.O.G., Srividya Seshadri, M.Sc., M.D., M.R.C.O.G.


There is accumulating evidence demonstrating that positive lifestyle modification and the optimization of the preconceptual period can influence the reproductive potential for both men and women. However, a large percentage of couples attending fertility clinics with potential to improve preconception habits may not always receive appropriate preconceptual advice. In addition, supplements and adjuncts that promise to increase fertility treatment success rates are marketed to infertile patients despite lack of convincing evidence supporting their benefit. This review aims to identify possible associations between lifestyle factors for couples seeking fertility treatment and fertility treatment outcomes and to offer possible explanations of the biological basis of these associations. An electronic search was conducted from 1978 through July 2019 linking preconceptual behaviors for women and men with the outcome of fertility treatment. The literature search explored the importance of numerous factors, including smoking, caffeine, alcohol, obesity, physical exercise, recreational drugs, stress, diet, supplements, alternative medicine, environmental factors, and pollutants. Some associations were found to be more significant than others. The preconceptual period is undeniably a delicate and important window which should not be overlooked during fertility counseling. Simple lifestyle modifications could positively influence fertility treatment outcomes. Fertility teams, consisting of clinicians, fertility nurses, dieticians, psychologists, exercise advisors and others, should dedicate time to offer evidence-based preconceptual advice and targeted interventions to couples seeking fertility treatment.