Improving Fertility Health: Lifestyle
Couples who have been trying to conceive can easily grow impatient when their plans don’t go exactly, or as easily, as planned. But before concluding that they may have certain fertility problems or that they need fertility drugs or treatments, it is good to first take a closer look into the way they are leading their lives.
Though there are many factors that eventually effect the process of fertilisation, there are certain steps that can be taken to improve your chances of conceiving, raise the odds and also create a healthy environment for the baby soon to arrive. These simple guidelines can be very beneficial in improving your fertility health.
Being overweight or underweight can affect the chances of ovulating normally in a woman. It has been found that women who have 17% to 21% of their total body weight as fat provide the ideal condition for ovulation. Have less or more body fat may hinder your menstrual cycle, make conception difficult. Women that are underweight may want to consider putting on some weight if they find that menstruation tends to be sporadic. Additionally, being underweight may indicate that you will have a hard time producing the extra amount of energy required for pregnancy. Maintaining a healthy weight before conception is therefore advisable.
Overweight women with ovulation and menstrual cycle problems may want to lose some weight if they are having troubles conceiving. However, overweight women do not necessarily need to lose a significant amount of weight in order to help their conception rates. Even slightly reducing your weight can increase your chances of conceiving many folds. An Australian study found that, as soon as a group of obese women lost almost 20 pounds, their bodies began to spontaneously ovulate again.
It has been known for a long time that smoking has a negative effect on conception but many fail to realise just how drastically smoking effects both male and female fertility. In men who smoke, sperm counts average 17% lower than those who do not smoke and it can also affect the health of the sperms.
Women who smoke not only increase the time it takes them to conceive as well as raise their the risk of spontaneous miscarriage, they also jeopardise the health of their baby yet to be born. Female smokers are also at a greater risk for delivering premature or low birth weight babies and developing pelvic inflammatory disease.
Studies have shown that smokers are 30% less fertile and require a much higher dose of fertility drugs if they opt for fertility treatments than non-smokers. Second hand smoking, too, is equally dangerous to women and their pregnancy
The effects of reducing or totally stopping smoking can produce noticeable results in days. In men, sperm count may increase by up to 800% while women are likely to get pregnant easier and faster.
Alcohol, Caffeine and Drugs
Regularly drinking alcohol can reduce fertility levels by up to 50%. It can also decrease sperm count while increasing the production of abnormal sperm. Similarly, drugs like marijuana and cocaine have been found to cause disruptions in a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Another chemical to avoid in order to improve your chances of conception is caffeine, which can be found in tea, coffee, chocolate and soft drinks. Caffeine reduces the fertility level of both men and women and even a single cup of coffee may reduce the chances of conception to half.
Moderate exercise everyday is key to maintaining a healthy body. Exercise helps to burn off excess body fat and also helps in normalising your hormone levels. But while moderate exercise won’t affect a women’s fertility, being an exercise fanatic will. Studies have shown that an excessive amount of exercise results in irregular periods, irregular ovulation and luteal phase deficiencies.
Some enjoyable, low-impact activities that will keep you fit include walking, swimming, cycling, yoga and meditation. Indeed some yoga positions have been found to be very beneficial to improve the fertility health of both women and men.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet has many advantages. It helps maintain an ideal body weight, keeps the hormone levels of the body normal and improves the health of the reproductive system. When making diet choices, though, reach for foods that are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and E and certain minerals.
- Both vitamins C and E play key roles in female and male fertility. A high intake of these vitamins may increase sperm count and increase sperm motility while in women these vitamins can reduce stress on eggs and the reproductive organs.
- Sperm need to be able to swim efficiently in order to reach the egg. Foods that contain antioxidants, vitamin E and selenium will help improve the sperm motility and make them better swimmers.
- Some research shows that if you are trying to conceive, it is wise to avoid sea food as the high level of mercury may be responsible for abnormal semen and decreased fertility.
- Many infertility issues crop up due to hormonal imbalances. This can be avoided by removing all processed flours and sugars such as white bread, pasta, pop, candy, and sugary juices from the diet.
- Eating foods with a low glycemic index such as fruits, vegetables, and beans; lean protein like yoghurt, chicken, tofu, and turkey; and essential fat including walnuts, sesame seeds, and extra virgin oil at every meal helps maintain the hormonal balance in the body and improves the functioning of the reproductive organs.
- Certain herbicides and pesticides sprayed on crops have been found to have drastic effects on fertility. In particular, xenoestrogens, a type of estrogen, found in environmental chemicals and pesticides may disturb the hormonal balance in women and lead to infertility. Choosing organic foods whenever possible will help you to avoid this chemical as well as others.
Regular diet, moderate exercise and a healthy mind and body are key to improve your fertility as well as overall health. Before loosing hope it is always better to observe your lifestyle more closely and make some small changes for better chances of bringing a child into this world.
For more information on lifestyle changes and fertility check out our pregnancy videos.