Advice to help increase your fertility health
If you are planning on conceiving in 2020, then there are several things you can do to improve your fertility health and increase your chances of a successful pregnancy.
Here are a few of the most important things you should do:
- Eat well
Many studies have found that consuming a healthy and well-balanced diet that is rich in nutrient-dense foods can benefit fertility in both men and women. Avoid excess sugar, and saturated and trans-fats where possible. Aim to eat a variety of foods such as lean proteins and fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight or underweight may impact your ability to conceive. Issues can arise from hormonal imbalances, ovulation and sperm quality. For women, being overweight also increases risk factors throughout pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, miscarriage and increased birth weight of the baby. It can also take up to a year for overweight women to fall pregnant.
For men, studies have consistently linked obesity to a lower sperm count or poor-quality sperm. This is due to oestrogen levels rising while testosterone levels drop.
Studies show that a 5-10% reduction in weight can make a significant difference to your fertility health. Calculating your body mass index (BMI) could be a good indicator but always consult a doctor to give medical advice.
- Keep fit
Regular, moderate intensity exercise will help maintain a healthy lifestyle, and can help reduce stress levels and improve sleeping patterns. Aim to exercise most days of the week for at least 30 minutes a day. Remember to let your body rest with minimum 1-2 rest days a week, especially if you are new to exercise.
- Know your medical history and medications
Always consult your doctor when planning a pregnancy, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are on medication. You will need that professional advice to guarantee the well-being of you and the baby. Most vaccinations are safe, but others (such as Rubella) need to be given well before you conceive and should not be given during pregnancy.
Some common medical conditions that can impact female fertility are polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis. With correct diagnosis and treatment, these conditions can be minimised or managed, therefore allowing conception to occur more easily. Other medical conditions also play a role in fertility success and need to be discussed with your doctor before attempting to conceive. Examples are diabetes and thyroid disease.
- Minimise stress
Stress can have a negative impact on a couple who are trying to conceive. Studies have shown that women under stress produce excess prolactin, which can impact regular ovulation and potentially lead to infertility. Studies also have shown that a male’s semen quality declines during periods of stress. Relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation can be beneficial to help reduce stress levels, and activities such as exercise and social gatherings could have a positive impact.
- Quit bad habits
Smoking: Apart from the long-term health risks, smoking is one of the biggest lifestyle factors that can negatively affect fertility. Among women, smoking has been shown to increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and babies with low birth weight. It can also reduce sperm quality in men. It is advised to quit smoking before conception and throughout pregnancy.
Alcohol: Alcohol consumption should be restricted before conception and eliminated throughout pregnancy. Alcohol can reduce the number of eggs produced and increase the risk of miscarriage and birth defects. Sperm quality can also be affected by excessive consumption of alcohol so men should consider limiting their intake when trying to conceive.
Caffeine: Caffeine is found in tea, coffee, soft drinks and some energy drinks. There are a few studies that suggest caffeine can have a negative effect on fertility, so you should moderate your intake.
Recreation drugs: Social drugs should not be taken at all in pregnancy.
- Consider supplements
If you decide to supplement your diet with multivitamins, make sure that they are safe to take in early pregnancy and that they do not exceed the recommended daily limits. Check with your pharmacist or doctor before starting anything new.
It is recommended for women to take folic acid to minimise the risk of spina bifida (a birth defect). Take at least 500 micrograms a day from the time you start trying to get conceive until you are at least three months pregnant.
This article was provided by City Fertility, who will be at Stand H45 at the Brisbane MBS Festival 2020.