It's a good idea to stop smoking before trying to become pregnant. Smoking reduces fertility by affecting ovulation in women and reducing sperm count and sperm motility in men.
Smoking during pregnancy is also linked with risks for the baby including premature birth, low birth weight and cot death.
Too much alcohol may decrease fertility in men. For women, heavy drinking, especially binge drinking, can cause problems for a developing baby, leading to poor growth, intellectual impairment or birth defects (fetal alcohol syndrome). The effects of small amounts of alcohol in pregnancy are not clear, but doctors know that it does cross the placenta and may affect the baby's developing brain.
It's best not to drink alcohol if you are trying to conceive, or at any stage during pregnancy. This is particularly important during the first three months of pregnancy, when important organs such as the brain are forming. If you do decide to drink alcohol, have no more than one or two units of alcohol, once or twice a week. Don't get drunk, or drink more than five units of alcohol in one go (known as "binge drinking"), as this may harm your unborn baby.
Some medicines can affect fertility and may be harmful to the baby if you become pregnant. You should speak to your GP if you take prescribed medicines and ask your pharmacist or GP for advice about any other medicines. If you take regular medication, it's best to talk to your doctor before you stop taking it.
4. Hazards at work
Some working environments can have an impact on fertility. You may be risking your health or the health of your baby if you work with X-rays, chemicals or lead. Speak to your GP, midwife, or the occupational health or personnel department at work if you are routinely exposed any of to these. Your employer is legally bound to provide a safe working environment for you.