Lifestyle choices that you Make or Break can affect your Fertility

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

A healthy lifestyle is important for everyone but it's especially important if you’re trying to get pregnant. So if you want to start that beautiful journey of hoping to get pregnant, you should be taking care of small things which will improve your fertility.

Certain lifestyle choices can have some effect on your fertility.

You need to look out for the following:

  • Maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight, or significantly underweight, can affect hormone production and inhibit normal ovulation. Maintaining a healthy weight can increase the frequency of ovulation and likelihood of pregnancy.

The more weight a woman gains over her healthy weight, the more she tends to experience decreased ovarian function.

Maintaining a healthy weight alleviates many of the strains on the body that can interfere with getting pregnant, such as elevated blood sugar levels and high blood pressure. Both body weight extremes can be detrimental: Becoming extremely underweight can mess with a woman’s hormonal balance and keep her from having a normal menstrual cycle, which can, in turn, prevent ovulation. Just as excess body fat can impact fertility, so can not having enough of it.  On the other hand, being overweight can impair a woman’s insulin function, and insulin has also been shown to interfere with normal ovulation. For men, being overweight can literally compress the testicles between thick thighs and that excessive heat surrounding the testicles can cause the sperm to form poorly. Also, excessive fat on a man’s body tends to convert into high estrogen levels and low testosterone levels, both of which are counterproductive for sperm growth. It is recommended that you visit your physician to assess your individual health situation to determine the appropriateness of your weight.

Regular exercise and a healthy balanced diet can also help control your weight and manage stress often associated with trying to conceive. Working out stimulates the endocrine glands to secrete hormones that produce egg growth. Getting your heart rate up for thirty minutes a day will not only enhance your fertility but release any daily frustrations before they have a chance to build up.

  • A Balanced Diet

A balanced diet will ensure that the body receives appropriate nutrition to maximize performance, which includes ideal ovulation for women and sperm production in men. Small changes to your diet can make a huge difference. Begin by eating more fruits and vegetables, and aim for at least six servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Be creative and try drinking a few in a smoothie or adding some puree into a dinner dish.

In terms of what you should try to avoid, white flour, white bread, and white rice food products make the top of the list. It is best to replace these items with foods that are rich in folic acids, such as brown rice, oats, beans, peas, spinach, cereals and oranges, then continue to add other fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

  • Effects of Caffeine

Caffeine may also impact one’s ability to become pregnant. Caffeine increases stress and is known to have addictive qualities .it increases the length of time it takes to conceive. It could also damage sperm and increase the risk in females of developing endometriosis.

Experts have recommended consumption of less than 100 mg per day of caffeine. We see caffeine is all around us in several sources such as coffee, tea, soda and chocolate. Replace it with a glass of healthy juices, smoothies or decaffeinated tea

  • Smoking and Alcohol

Whether you're a man or a woman smoking and drinking alcohol can harm the chances of conception. For men, it decreases the quality, quantity, and the movement of swimming sperm. For women, cigarette smoking can directly affect the egg quality. Cigarette smoke disrupts hormones and damages DNA in both men and women.

 Excessive alcohol can affect the function of the liver, which controls many hormonal functions, for both men and women. These hormonal functions are crucial for both normal ovulation and sperm growth. 

So try and quit smoking and minimize alcohol intake as soon as possible, if you are trying to conceive.

  • Prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other health issues

Sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are a leading cause of infertility for women. To protect yourself from STIs, practice safe intercourse. Limit your number of sexual partners, and use a condom each time you have intercourse or stay in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who isn't infected. Health issues such as polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids can affect a woman's chances of getting pregnant or successfully carrying a pregnancy to term. Women with autoimmune disorders (such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis) may also have trouble conceiving, since their bodies may reject a fertilized egg or attack her partner's sperm. So it’s advisable to have a regular health checkup and keep an eye on these factors.

  • Understand the fertility cycle

It's helpful for couples to time intercourse to the appropriate stages of the month which means understanding the female fertility cycle is very important. The first day of full flow (not just spotting) is always counted as the first day of the menstrual cycle. For many people who have a normal 28- to 30-day cycle, ovulation tends to occur around day 13 or 14.

The use of an over-the-counter ovulatory predictor kit which involves checking a urine sample generally indicates that ovulation will occur within 12 to 24 hours, make use of it.

  • Managing Stress

Perceived stress can certainly alter hormone levels and ovulation.  When it is in excess and when we react to it in a negative way it can have all kinds of impact on our health and our bodies." Stress can interfere with conception. ... That's because stress can affect the functioning of the hypothalamus the gland in the brain that regulates your appetite and emotions, as well as the hormones that tell your ovaries to release eggs. If you're stressed out, you may ovulate later in your cycle or not at all. It's important for women to relax when they are trying to have a baby.

OVERALL VIEW

  1. Eat healthy
  2. Exercise stop smoking and alcohol keep an eye on your medical condition by doing regular checkups
  3. And the most important thing "stay positive and be happy” :)

By Dr. Varsha Anand

Specialist OB/GYN