The end of the year is often a time where many of us reflect on the year past and make resolutions for the year ahead. For patients who are experiencing infertility, there is an even greater motivation to make lifestyle adjustments in the new year. The good news is, making even small changes can have a big impact on increasing your chances of conceiving and improving your fertility.
Tips for Improving Your Fertility
Be Your Own Advocate
It’s important to take control of your future and be proactive in seeking the help you need. Don’t wait for a doctor referral to schedule an appointment. In fact, approximately 50 percent of our patients are self-referred. Take control of your future and seek the help you need to start building your family.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
“There is a strong correlation between a woman’s BMI (body mass index) and her fertility potential,” explains Dr. Greenhouse, from SGF’s Fair Oaks, VA and Haymarket, VA offices. “While not every woman who is underweight or overweight will have difficulty conceiving, there are many who do. For a woman’s reproductive system to function properly, a healthy amount of fat needs to be present. Women who are underweight lack the appropriate amount of fat needed for reproduction, causing their bodies to ovulate infrequently or not at all. Even the smallest weight gain can help restart the reproductive system.”
Dr. Greenhouse continues, “overweight women can experience insulin resistance, which makes managing a healthy weight difficult. Unbalanced insulin levels may cause the ovaries to produce an excess amount of male hormones and stop releasing eggs, which makes conception challenging. It’s important not to forget about your partner. Overweight men have shown to have abnormal semen, which may attribute to low sperm count and low sperm motility (movement).”
It’s no surprise that smoking presents risks to your overall health. However, many people don’t realize the effect smoking has on fertility. Studies have shown that women who smoke have a 54 percent chance of taking a year or longer to conceive compared with nonsmokers. The delay in conception is directly impacted with the quantity of cigarettes smoked. The more cigarettes smoked, the more chemicals that enter the body, which increases the rate of follicular depletion and reduces estrogen levels in the body. Smoking affects men as well and can decrease their sperm count by 22 percent. Damage from smoking is not permanent and it can be improved. Sperm regenerates every 74 days, enabling sperm produced when stopping smoking to be of better quality.
Reduce Alcohol Intake
Women who consume a moderate amount of alcohol (up to five drinks per week) have shown a decrease in fertility. Women who consume 10 alcoholic drinks per week show an even greater decrease in their chances of conceiving. Since there is no confirmed data of a safe threshold for consumption, we recommend refraining from all alcohol when trying to conceive and during pregnancy.
Manage Stress and Anxiety Appropriately
For many women, their stress levels may already be high when they are trying to conceive or begin treatment. When you begin fertility treatment, we strongly recommend patients to join a support group. Some even find services such as acupuncture or massage offered at our Wellness Center to be helpful. While these alternative therapies have not been proven to increase conception rates, these activities have helped many patients better manage the emotional stress of infertility and support them before and during treatment.
Even modest lifestyle adjustments in can make a difference in improving your fertility and help you get pregnant faster.
If you would like to learn more about improving your fertility or to schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist, please speak with one of our New Patient Liaisons at 877-971-7755.