Fertility Healthy Lifestyle
Leading a healthy lifestyle can significantly improve a couple’s chance for pregnancy. Ideally couples should achieve these goals several months before attempting to conceive.
Increased weight has been shown to decrease fertility rates in both women and men. In women increased weight can affect ovulation and implantation rates. In men excessive obesity has been associated with higher estrogen levels that can affect sperm production. Every attempt should be maintained to achieve a normal BMI (body mass index). Ideally, BMI between 20 & 25 are optimal. Minimal BMI have been associated with anovulation and poor fetal weight gain during pregnancy.
Smoking has been shown to decrease fertility in both women and men. In women it has been shown to decrease ovarian reserve (the supply of eggs). Tar and nicotine have been measured in the follicular fluid around eggs at the time of IVF egg retrieval. In men excessive smoking has been linked to poor semen parameters. Even secondhand smoke has been reported to damage egg and sperm production. Every attempt should be made to stop smoking prior to initiation of pregnancy.
Excessive caffeine has been linked to increased miscarriage rates. In general, one cup of coffee or tea a day is not likely to affect fertility.
Alcohol ingestion has been associated with diminished ovarian reserve as well as fetal alcohol syndrome should ingestion continue with pregnancy. Women should not drink at all when they are trying to conceive. Excessive alcohol ingestion in males has been linked to poor semen parameters.
Exercise has been shown to improve fertility primarily as a strong antioxidant. Antioxidants have been shown to be beneficial for both egg and sperm production. Even if someone is significantly overweight exercise has been shown to improve fertility rates likely due to potent antioxidant effects. Excessive exercise has been linked to reduced fertility.
Antioxidants have been shown to have beneficial effects on both egg and sperm production and health. Exercise as previously mentioned is a very potent antioxidant and probably accounts for beneficial effects of exercise done in moderation. Co-Q-10 is one of the more potent clinical antioxidant. Vitamin E is also an excellent antioxidant. Other antioxidants include dark chocolate, green tea, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries is felt to benefit egg and sperm production. Mediterranean diet rich in fish and omega 3 fatty acids act as potent antioxidants.
Stress has been associated with infertility. It is difficult to quantitate how much stress is relevant for an individual. Stress has been shown to disrupt ovulation if severe enough. Different relaxation techniques have been shown to improve ovulatory function. It is felt that the beneficial effects of stress reduction include improved blood supply to the ovaries as well as normalized secretion of the gonadotropins the hormones responsible for egg production.