Did You Know?
Did you know there are decisions you can make right now that could greatly increase your fertility? Your weight, exercise habits and nutrition all play an important role in your fertility. Your weight, whether over or under, plays a crucial role in your fertility. There is an abundant amount of research and evidence that links weight to infertility. Not only does weight affect fertility and the preconception phase, but it also can negatively affect your pregnancy once you do become pregnant.
Female obesity in pregnancy has been linked to:
- Miscarriage and recurrent miscarriage
- Gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Sleep Apnea
- Increased risk of C-section and complications from C-section
- Birth defects
Diet and Exercise
The phrase “diet and exercise” seems like a great term to throw out on the table but can leave people still without a plan or call to action. What should I eat? How often should I exercise?
Begin with self-examining your routine. Are there easy changes you can make immediately? Can you make smarter choices such as eliminating that late-night dessert or replacing soda with water? Can you quit smoking and drink less alcohol? Can you decrease your caffeine intake? Start incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables along with lean meat to your diet. These are all controllable lifestyle choices that can greatly increase your fertility chances.
In addition to eating right, now is the time to start taking those prenatal vitamins. These are important to take before, during and after pregnancy for optimal health. Other vitamins to consider including in your diet include:
Although not proven, there is some research that suggests benefits of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for infertility. CoQ10, which occurs naturally in the body, is a vitamin-like substance that is found at the cell level. High concentrations of CoQ10 are found in places with high energy requirements such as heart, liver, or kidney. It is different than other vitamins because it does not need to be supplied in the diet.
The theory behind CoQ10 is that by taking it daily, it would improve egg quality in women who have a decreased mitochondrial energy production. In other words, the egg would have a better chance of normal chromosomal structure if it had enough energy to produce a quality egg. Hence where CoQ10 comes into play.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a naturally occurring hormone in the female body. Its main job is to convert androstenedione and testosterone into estrogens (estrone and estradiol).
A small study was done on five patients under the age of 41 and who had a documented poor response to high doses of gonadotropins, a hormone injection that stimulates luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). DHEA was given to them for two months and continued during ovarian stimulation prior to intrauterine insemination (IUI). After two months, all patients showed an increase in androgen and estradiol (E2) levels, necessary hormones in conception.
There is not a lot of conclusive evidence on the effects of vitamins on fertility, but there is certainly no harm in taking them to improve overall general health. It is generally recommended to take Vitamin D due to the alleged deficiency of this in many populations. In addition, women with higher vitamin D levels are significantly more likely to achieve clinical pregnancy following IVF.
Omega 3 (Fish oil)
Fish are an important source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial to the development of the fetus. There is evidence that suggests that higher fish consumption is correlative with greater cognitive development. However, not all fish are safe to eat while pregnant, so it is important to take Fish Oil or follow the FDA recommended safety tips to eating fish and shellfish.
Do you exercise regularly?
If so, great! Keep it up. If not, start by walking 30 minutes 5 times per week. As you build your stamina, increase your activity level to more strenuous or aerobic exercises for 30 minutes, five times per week. Research suggests that the ideal Body Mass Index (BMI) rang in women for the best fertility chances is between 18.5 to 25 kg/m2.
There are many great websites or YouTube videos you can watch and help you to make improvements right now in your health.
Lastly, consider your stress levels. It’s easy to be stressed when a negative pregnancy test keeps showing up uninvited each month. The more people tell you to “relax!” the more difficult it is to do just that. Studies have shown that women with high levels of stress can have a harder time getting pregnant, including IVF treatments. While it is difficult to prove that stress directly causes infertility, stress can cause women and men to eat and smoke more, exercise and sleep less, and take on other unhealthy habits that negatively affect fertility. Consider seeking a nutrition counselor or making lifestyle changes that can lower stress levels. Eat healthy, exercise 150 minutes per week (30 min per day 5 times per week), find activities that make you happy and get 8 hours of sleep per night as often as possible.