Home and Environment

Home is where the heart is, and where you spend most of your time. Your home and the environment you live in may have an impact on your fertility health. Factors within your home and environment include where you live, pollution, and even whether you have pets. When you consider that many of the other jigsaw pieces in our fertility puzzle happen at home – sleep, lifestyle, and support, to name just three – it makes sense that this area has its own jigsaw piece.

Home, Environment and Your Microbiome

Home and environment are connected to your microbiome and depending on the conditions, can both positively and negatively affect your fertility health. Your environment plays a critical part in the composition of the human microbiome. A study found that a total of 22%–36% of the interpersonal microbiome variability is associated with environmental factors and only 1.9%–9% by genetics.4

Research shows that individuals who grew up in city environments had a less diverse gut microbiome. Urban development may be detrimental to human health by altering the reservoirs of environmental microbes. Urbanization leads to changes in living conditions such as increased sanitation and antibiotic use, separation from the outdoors, and poor land management practices that may reduce soil microbial biodiversity.5

Home, Environment and Your Fertility Health

In a study from the Czech Republic, men who were exposed to higher levels of air pollution were more likely to experience abnormal sperm morphology (size and shape of the sperm), decreased motility, and an increased chance of DNA fragmentation. There was also a significant negative correlation found between sperm concentration and the amount of ozone to which a man was exposed.1 Ozone is the main chemical found in air pollution like smog. 

There is convincing evidence that shows an association between exposure to particular types of chemicals and male reproductive disorders. Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in environmental pollutants may result in male fertility issues including poor semen quality, low sperm count, low ejaculate volume, a high number of morphologically abnormal sperms and low number of motile sperms, as well as testicular cancer, reproductive organ malformations, prostate diseases and other abnormalities of male reproductive tissues. 2

The negative reproductive side effects of air pollution on women included preterm delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, and fetal loss.1

Exposure to animals can modify the microbiome throughout childhood and adulthood. Household pets and animal exposure can also influence the microbiome. While the role of animal exposure on the adult gut microbiome remains unclear, in children, there is research and evidence to show that exposure to pets and farm animals can promote microbiome diversity.4

How to Improve Your Home and Environment

While completely changing your living environment may not be possible, there are a few changes you can make to help improve your home and environment to enhance your fertility health.

  • Expose yourself to the fresh outdoors to promote microbiome diversity and health.
  • Take a day trip to a more rural area for less polluted air.
  • Invest in an air filter for your house, and change the filters regularly.
  • Consider bringing in a furry friend to your home to diversify your microbiome.

Our home and living environments contribute to our microbiome health which then plays an important role in our fertility health. Try combining our tips with some of the other jigsaw pieces – for example, get your Movement and Exercise on country walks.