10 Key steps to help fertility
When you are trying for a baby it can be an exciting time, many couples who come through my clinic often ask me…. what tips can I give them to improve their chances of a baby? Now is the time for both you and your partner to start taking a good look at your overall health and well-being ..to give you the best chance of conceiving. By the way I have also formulated a fertility questionnaire to help you assess your fertility history. You just need to download this.
Below are 10key steps that will helpyou in preparing your fertility. I wish you all the best in getting pregnant
1. Start with some vitamin Supplementation especially the vitamin called Folic Acid
All women of childbearing age are recommended to take the vitamin supplement called folic acid. This important vitamin helps to prevent spinal and brain problems such as Spina bifida (called neural tube defects) in the newborn. You can get this vitamin in any pharmacy or health food store; it also comes with other vitamin formulations. I recommend you commencenow and continue into and through- out your pregnancy.
Folate also has a role in boosting fertility. Folate plays a role in egg development, implantation and placentation. Infertility has been found to be associated with large red blood cells, a symptom of vitamin B12 and folate deficiency. The recommended daily intake for women trying to conceive is 400 micrograms of folate a day.
One important point: If you are taking anti-epileptic medication or diabetes medication your baby will be at an increased risk of a neural tube defect and therefore it is recommended to increase your folic acid dose to 5 milligrams daily, and any women at risk of a folatedeficiency willalso need to increase their daily requirement of folate to 5 milligrams.
Food sources rich in folate include wheatgerm, vegemite, avocado, spinach and other greens, oranges, strawberries, kidney beans, chickpeas and other legumes.
Start Iron Supplementation:
The demands for iron are higher in pregnancy and during breastfeeding, especially in the second and third trimester of pregnancy due to the increased blood volume and the demands of the developing child. Your doctor or antenatal clinic will be testing for any deficiency at the beginning and at varying intervals of the pregnancy. Any deficiency will show up as anaemia and iron supplementation would be recommended. Vegans/ vegetarians are more likely to be iron deficient requiring supplementation.
Start Iodine Supplementation:
Iodine is important for our thyroid and for foetal brain development in pregnancy. Any iodine deficiency can lead to an underactive thyroid in the pregnant mother. The only source of iodine is through our diet which is why it is in the salt we use, however in today’s world we are eating less salt and iodine deficiency is becoming more common. Obstetricians are now recommending iodine supplementation at a dose of 220 micrograms a day.
Start Vitamin D Supplementation:
Vitamin D when combined with calcium is an important vitamin for the bones. Reduced levels can lead to osteoporosis in pregnant women and there is some evidence to show poorer outcomes in pregnancy.
There is an increasing incidence of vitamin D deficiency and the women at risk are those who may be exposed to reduce sunlight (veiled women), have gastro-intestinal disturbances or poor vitamin D intake. It is important to have your vitamin D levels checked before pregnancy or at the beginning, and this is through a blood test.
The recommended dietary requirement during pregnancy and breastfeeding is 5micrograms per day and this needs to be taken in conjunction with calcium to help absorption .
In pregnancy women should be getting enough calcium if they are having a balanced diet with dairy. However if she avoids any dairy say due to lactose intolerance or has vitamin D deficiency, then calcium supplementation is advised – recommended dose is -1000milligrams per day.
Good sources of calcium include dairy foods such as yogurt, cheese, milk, and calcium enriched soya milk, tofu, flax seeds, almonds
2. Make sure you get the pre-pregnancy screening tests
All women trying to conceive should have all the pre-pregnancy screening tests. This involves a blood test and most general practitioners can organise this for you.
It is important to check you have immunity to German Measles (Rubella), and Chicken Pox prior to being pregnant. The blood test can also check for Thyroid problems, Hepatitis B, C and HIV, check your blood type and rule out any anaemia in you.
3. If you or your partner smoke: Stop Now
If you are a smoker or your partner is a smoker then trying to stop could be the most important thing you could do to increase your chances of getting pregnant, and staying pregnant.
The evidence is very strong with over 1350 articles on the effect of smoking and fertility… Multiple studies have showed that smokers of both men and women had a 2 fold chance of infertility. This means the chances of not getting pregnant were twice that of people who did not smoke and that is quite an amazing statistic!.
Smoking is one of the strongest lifestyle risk factors that has a detrimental effect on your reproduction…. including effecting the quality of your eggs making them less likely to fertilize, increasing your chances of pregnancy loss, increasing the incidence of birth malformations such as cleft palate, as well as increasing obstetric complications like pre-term birth and intra-uterine growth restriction.
4. Reduce you and your partner’s alcohol intake
It is thought alcohol causes direct damage to eggs and sperm and direct damage to the early pregnancy through as a process called oxidative stress leading to the formation of molecules called free oxygen radicals that can then cause cell damage.
Excess alcohol is also often accompanied by other unhealthy lifestyles such as poor diet with vitamin and nutritional deficiencies like folic acid, thiamine, zinc and magnesium which are all important for reproduction. Alcohol is also responsible for depleting your vitamin B levels. It can contribute to a poor diet. It is high in calories and it is fattening.
5. Get the best weight for fertility and pregnancy
An ideal BMI is between 20 and 24. Studies have shown that it is much harder to conceive when your BMI is greater than 25. Additional studies have demonstrated that by losing just 5% to 10% of your weight will improve your chances of ovulation and subsequent pregnancy
You can calculate your BMI either in pounds and inches or in kilograms and meters. Either method is equally accurate.
Body Mass Index Calculator for Females at http://bmicalculatorforfemales.com/
6. Chart Your Cycle to Know your fertile time
The whole point to understanding your menstrual cycle as it pertains to fertility is to try to pinpoint the day you actually ovulate.
The reason this is important is because your egg will only stay alive for between 12 – 24 hours after it has been released from your ovary. In order for the egg to be fertilized in time, you must have sperm ready and waiting when that egg travels to the Fallopian tube. Ovulation is your fertile time, when the egg is released from your ovary. It is picked up by your fallopian tube and waits there to be fertilized by your partner’s sperm.
The egg only has about 24 hours for fertilization before it dies…so timing is important.
The best and most reliable method for checking your most fertile time are the urine Ovulation sticks that change colour when your near ovulation. You can also watch for abundant cervical secretions, and an increase in body temperature. This can all be put down on a chart to pin point your best fertile day.
7. Look At The Medications You Are Taking:
The only drugs you should be taking are those that are prescribed for you, or approved over the counter medications as indicated by your doctor.
Recreational drugs are toxic to male and female reproductive organs…affecting proper sperm and egg development and production.
8. Get Good Sleeping Habits:
Do you sleep well? Do you practice good sleeping technique? Is your bedroom for sleeping only, or do you work, watch television, read, talk, fight, and pay bills there? If so, change that now. Sleeping well is essential. It allows your body to recharge, something that is essential for fertility and during pregnancy.
9. Find Ways To Reduce Stress:
Stress seems to be a very constant companion in our lives. While we feel we are compensating pretty well to our non-stop levels of stress, we are actually paying a fairly heavy price in increased blood pressure, elevated cortisol levels, GERD, and IBS symptoms.
Learning to deal with stress while trying for a pregnancy will help you for the rest of your life. Look into meditation classes, Tai Chi, or Yoga. Self-hypnosis classes help with stress and can later help as you prepare for delivery.
10. Get Your Partner Involved and Organised
Ensure he is eating the right nutrition as well. I would recommend he adds supplements to his diet. These are anti-oxidents that may help improve sperm. New evidence shows that men who consume large quantities of dietary fat have significantly lower sperm production compared with those who have a lower fat intake so get him to have a low fat diet. large studies have also shown that Folate and Vitamin D may also be good for sperm.
Get him to focus on his lifestyle as well, cutting out cigarettes, reducing alcohol and eating fruit and veges, especially those containing zinc, magnesium and selenium
Trying for a baby can be an anxious time, especially as you wait to see if your period will arrive. Try to focus your energy outward rather than turning on yourself. I hope this has been helpful to you. By following these tips you can feel as though you have done the best you can.
If you would like to investigate further please do make an appointment to see me in either of my clinic rooms.
Maroubra rooms ph. 02-93495111, or St George Private Hospital ph. 02-95537555
Find out what problems can cause fertility issues
Learn about the fertility tests I recommend for you and your partner
Find out what treatments are available with Dr Raewyn Teirney