Happy New Year! If your hopes for this year include growing your family, there’s a few things you can do to move one step closer to fulfilling that dream. In 2019, resolve to:
Smoking has a negative impact on fertility in both men and women. The toxins in cigarette smoke are damaging to both egg and sperm and may make it more difficult to conceive and more difficult to carry a healthy baby to term.
Both partners should quit smoking at least three months before trying to conceive to optimize chances for conception and a healthy pregnancy. Avoiding second hand smoke is important, too.
Do you need help and support to quit smoking? We’re happy to recommend resources, and your family doctor can assist, too.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Many Americans struggle to keep their weight from creeping up the scale. Carrying extra weight can impact fertility.
For women, being overweight can prevent ovulation. How? Fat cells produce estrogen. The extra estrogen released by growing fat cells can trick a woman’s body into thinking it is already pregnant, preventing ovulation. Obesity can also interfere with certain treatments, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Being underweight can also have a negative impact on fertility for women. Being underweight can interfere with the body’s production of estrogen, causing ovulation to cease.
Men aren’t off the hook, either. Poorly maintained body weight may also interfere with sperm count and men.
Keep weight in check by committing to eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly. If you need nutrition or other guidance, talk to your doctor.
Make healthier food choices.
In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, some foods may help support fertility.
A study by the Harvard School of Public Health of nearly 19,000 women found that women who consumed fewer trans fats, carbs and animal proteins had better ovulatory health and function. Women hoping to become pregnant should fill up on vegetables and fruits, and choose healthy plant-based fats and proteins, and cut back on trans fats, red meat, refined sugar and simple carbs.
Iron rich foods like beans, eggs, lentils, spinach, enriched cereals and rice and whole grains may also enhance ovulatory health. Foods rich in vitamin C will also help your body adsorb iron.
Men should seek out foods that support or enhance sperm motility and count. Foods rich in zinc (such as oysters, beef, poultry, dairy, nuts, eggs, whole grains and beans), antioxidants (cranberries, collard greens, pomegranate), vitamin E (nuts, seeds and vegetable oils), and vitamin C (oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit and broccoli). Men should avoid junk foods loaded with trans fats, salt and sugar, and cut back on caffeine and alcohol consumption.
Get enough sleep.
While there’s not been a significant amount of research into the impact of sleep on fertility, there’s been enough to suggest that getting the right amount of sleep matters, especially for men.
A Boston University study of more than 600 couples undergoing IVF treatment revealed that getting less than six hours of sleep per night reduced a man’s chance of getting a woman pregnant by 43 percent, while getting more than nine hours of sleep decreased it by 42 percent. For optimal fertility chances, men should aim for a solid 7 – 8 hours of sleep per night.
While there is some research that shows stress can have an impact on ovulation, fertilization and implantation, the real impact seems to be in how we handle stress. Stress and anxiety can lead to overeating, excessive alcohol use and other unhealthy responses that negatively impact fertility.
Work, relationship and everyday life bring stress, and fertility treatment often adds another layer of stress. Commit to developing health coping mechanisms for handling stress, such as meditation, exercise or talk therapy.
Kentucky Fertility Institute also offers space for the Kentuckiana Infertility Support Group’s monthly meeting. The group is open to anyone who is seeking guidance and support on their journey to become parents. Check out our Facebook page for information and upcoming meetings.
If you need support and guidance for keeping these resolutions, we’re here to help. Talk to your doctor or the staff today if you need assistance, and we’ll be glad to help.