Fertility - What you can do to improve your chances?

The latest research now clearly identifies a link between lifestyle and its impact on fertility.

We offer a number of support services including counselling support, stress management as well as expert advice in nutrition, weight management and smoking cessation.

Your chances of a successful pregnancy will increase by improving your overall health and well-being.

 

Galway Fertility Clinic has partnered with experts, which are available to support and advise clients on how to optimise their health while preparing for pregnancy.

 

Weight Management

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement of your weight in relation to your height. A normal BMI is under 25. A BMI of 25-30 is considered as overweight and above this is classed as obese. Obesity has become a major health risk in the Irish population.

Obesity significantly reduces your chance of  conceiving and increases the risk of  miscarriage and pregnancy related problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, difficulties with childbirth and childhood obesity in children. When it comes to fertility treatments, obese women respond less well to medication and the increase in patient’s size may make medical procedures less safe.

There is also evidence that being significantly underweight can affect fertility by altering the menstrual cycle, and affects how the body metabolises sex hormones.

In men, there is some evidence that being overweight can reduce sperm numbers and function. Men who reduce their BMI can improve sperm DNA fragmentation levels.

 

Stop Smoking

Tobacco smoke is toxic both to eggs and sperm thus reducing the chance of natural conception and the success of fertility treatments. Smoking during pregnancy doubles the risk of miscarriage and increases the risk of premature birth, low birth weight babies, stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome (cot deaths). There is an increase in childhood cancers (e.g. leukaemia) when either parent smokes. Both partners should stop smoking for a minimum of 3 months prior to treatment to improve their chances of conception.

 

Avoid Alcohol

Although there is some evidence that complete cessation of alcohol consumption  may improve fertility, a sensible limit whilst trying to conceive is less than 6 units per week. Alcohol should be avoided  during pregnancy.

 

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise is an essential part leading to a healthy lifestyle. The benefits of exercise are well known – to lower stress levels, reduce weight, improve your mood, overall health and well-being. However we recommend caution as excessive exercise and extreme weight loss can lead to fertility problems in both women and men (eg. Triathlon or marathon training, cycling long distances).

 

Reduce Stress Levels

Stress is common with every-day life and busy working schedules. However high levels of stress and anxiety negatively impact on conception and also relationships and affect libido. Galway Fertility Clinic recommends reducing stress levels as much as possible to give yourself the best chance. Concerns regarding fertility and treatment can also add to your pre existing worries. Clients with infertility have a tendency to become increasingly isolated and avoid family gatherings and friends who have young families. It is advisable to talk and share your concerns to get support during this difficult process.

Counselling is available to any clients experiencing such difficulties. (see Support Services).

 

Alternative Remedies

Clients may wish to seek alternative remedies and treatments for fertility problems such as acupuncture and reflexology. There is little substantial evidence i.e medical evidence that they actually work. Often these treatments target stress relief and some clients may find this beneficial.  Galway Fertility Clinic does not recommend any herbal remedies during treatment as this may interfere with the quality of eggs or sperm.

 

Healthy Diet and Supplements

Proper nutrition from a well-balanced healthy diet is also advisable for all clients trying to conceive, to improve the quality of both eggs and sperm and hence optimise pregnancy occurring. Getting specific advice from a nutritionist is a good idea prior to embarking on treatment.

Galway Fertility Clinic has partnered with some experts in this field to assist you.

Women should take additional folic acid 400mcgs daily prior to conceiving and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Folic acid helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects (e.g. spina bifida).

Supplements of Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin E and folic acid are recommended to improve sperm quality.

 

Medication and Drugs

Some prescription medications may reduce your chances of conceiving. It is important to inform your GP and Fertility doctor of any medications you are taking so that alternatives may be prescribed if necessary.  Other ‘recreational drugs’ such as marijuana, heroin and cocaine should not be taken by either partner as they are toxic to the embryo and reduce fertility.

 

Keeping Cool for best sperm production

The testes should be cooler than the rest of the body to maximise on sperm production. Therefore, it is recommended for men to avoid the following:

  • Wearing tight-fitting clothes (eg. boxers rather than briefs)
  • Use of saunas and hot baths.
  • Use of a laptop directly on your lap as this can generate a lot of heat.

 

Avoid Toxins

Some solvents are toxic to sperm production and quality, such as paints, adhesives, chemicals in laboratories. Regular exposure to the agents can affect fertility. Hence all safety precautions should be taken when handling these substances. Always use a mask when working with MDF (wood/timber) as the fibres are toxic. Farmers should avoid exposure to chemicals such as pesticides or “sheep dip”.