Fertility Lifestyle Tips
When you’re ready to start trying for a baby, it’s important to run a lifestyle audit. Here are the main points to consider:
The biggest factor in your ability to conceive - both naturally and with assisted reproductive techniques - is age. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have and as they age so do the eggs, causing problems with their ability to create a healthy pregnancy and ultimately a baby. A woman’s fertility starts to fall from age 22 but drops more dramatically in your mid to late 30s. Age impacts male fertility as well; older men take longer to get their partner pregnant.
Being underweight or overweight can impact fertility - and that includes the guys. Use a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator to check if your weight is in the healthy range which is 18.5 to 24.9 for both men and women. For women, being underweight or overweight affects your ability to ovulate. In men, obesity can lower sperm counts by up to 50 per cent and overweight men are more likely to suffer erectile dysfunction and have a higher rate of DNA fragmentation in sperm.
Your less than great habits
Do you smoke? Women who smoke cigarettes (and those regularly exposed to passive smoke) are less likely to conceive and more likely to miscarry or have an ectopic pregnancy. Smoking in men has been found to have detrimental effects on sperm DNA. So it’s important that you both stop. Studies also show that regular users of marijuana have a greater risk of infertility compared with those who don’t partake. While the exact number of alcoholic drinks needed to affect your fertility is unclear, the best advice remains to reduce how much you drink to no more than one or two glasses a day or cut it out altogether. Caffeine is another area where there is no hard and fast rule, we recommend not more than two cups of coffee a day.
Top tips for weight loss
Being overweight or obese has been proven not only to reduce the chances of a couple conceiving naturally, but it also means fertility treatment, such as IVF, is less likely to be successful.
Working long hours, eating on the fly or gravitating towards pre-packaged food for convenience, can all contribute to an unhealthy diet – resulting in less energy and weight gain.
The good news is that fertility is improved with a relatively modest degree of weight loss (or gain if you are too thin). But with hectic lifestyles and so many weight loss messages out there, it might be difficult to know what is right for you.
Here are Genea’s top tips for weight loss and a healthy lifestyle while Trying To Conceive (TTC):
Know your goal weight
Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) to know what your optimal weight is. In both men and women a BMI of 18.5 - 24.9 is considered normal. If your weight loss target is a little daunting, set yourself weekly targets - creating smaller, more achievable goals.
Aim for a healthy, unprocessed and nutritionally optimal diet
Include as much fresh food as possible and organic options where feasible. Try to choose good quality protein, plenty of fruit and vegetables, high fibre, low glycaemic carbohydrates and good fats such as olive oil, nuts and fish. Avoid trans fats found in biscuits and fried foods.
If you are finding it difficult to reduce what you are eating, try stepping up the exercise to burn away the rest. Ideas for fitting more exercise into a busy routine include taking the stairs instead of the lift, parking further away from your destination and walking the rest of the way or going for a walk after dinner to help digest your food.
Add in a prenatal vitamin
Folate is well recognized for its benefits in reducing the risk of chromosomal abnormalities and neural tube defects. But vitamin D and iodine are both also considered an essential part of a woman’s preconception care.
Support one another
An unhealthy weight in both men and women can affect fertility so, ensure you both have a healthy BMI and monitor your diet and exercise regime together.
Visit an experienced nutritionist who specialises in fertility
They can provide specific advice and guidance to your personal circumstances.