Lifestyle Habits to Improve Fertility
It can be noted that certain lifestyle habits to improve fertility could help you. Enhancing your general health can have positive effects on your fertility. You could incorporate these lifestyle changes before and during the time you are trying to conceive.
Evidence suggests that smoking is harmful to male and female fertility. If a woman smokes 20 cigarettes a day her natural fertility is reduced by over 20%. Smoking is also harmful to the developing fetus both in the short term during the course of the pregnancy. Evidence would also suggest that in the long term there is an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes in mid-life.
Furthermore, smoking has been linked to low sperm counts and sluggish sperm movement in men. It is also linked to an increase in miscarriage in women.
Drink less alcohol
Alcohol affects the fertility of both men and women who are trying to conceive either naturally or through infertility treatments. Binge drinking or chronic abuse of alcohol plays a big role. Alcohol is toxic to sperm because it reduces sperm counts, can interfere with sexual performance, disrupt hormone balances and increase the risk of miscarriage. In addition high alcohol intake during pregnancy can cause fetal abnormality.
For women, no more than 1 to 2 standard drinks a day is recommended.
For men it is no more than 3 to 4 standard drinks a day.
Being unable to conceive can place stress on your relationship but avoid the temptation to relieve the stress with alcohol. Rather try meditation, relaxation, moderate physical activity or yoga.
Eat a balanced diet
Follow a well-balanced diet. A good diet should include carbohydrates, protein and fibre. All women should increase their intake of folic acid before and during the first three months of pregnancy. Folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Folic acid supplements can be taken or it can be found in green leafy vegetables, fruit and cereals.
Avoid excessive exercise because it can lead to menstrual disorders in women and affect sperm production in men due to the heat build-up around the testicles. Moderate exercise to manage your weight and health is ideal.
Avoid environmental poisons
Try to avoid environmental poisons and hazards such as pesticides, lead, heavy metals, toxic chemicals, and ionising radiation.
If you are taking any medication or herbal remedies, check with your doctor whether it may affect your fertility.
Give up recreational drugs such as marijuana and cocaine as these have been linked to low sperm counts in men and infertility in women.
Women who are overweight could decrease their chances of becoming pregnant. Losing weight can be achieved through moderate exercise and a balanced diet, both of which have positive effects on fertility.
Prevention of spina bifida
There is evidence that a small dose of folic acid (400 mcg daily) is helpful in lowering the incidence of fetal abnormalities such as spina bifida. All women going through the IVF programme should consider taking this small daily dose of folic acid. Any women who suffer from epilepsy should take a double dose of 800 mcg daily.
Check if you are immune to rubella (German measles). Even if you were vaccinated when you were a child, the vaccine is, sometimes, not effective. If you are not immune to rubella and you contract the condition in pregnancy, it can have disastrous effects on the fetus. A blood test will show whether or not you are immune to rubella. This could be arranged with the hospital, clinic or your GP.
The incidence of cervical cancer can be reduced with regular cervical smears. If you are close to requiring a repeat smear it is advisable to have this performed before you start with fertility treatment.
Men should wear loose-fitting underwear such as cotton boxer shorts. The reason is that tight underwear can lower sperm production.
Men should avoid saunas, spas and hot baths, as heat around the testicles could impair sperm production.