If you are thinking of getting pregnant, and especially if you are having difficulty conceiving, then one of your priorities should be to ensure a healthy lifestyle. You may be surprised to learn how strongly our lifestyle can affect the health of the reproductive system and the developing fetus. Taking care of our health before pregnancy consists in ensuring healthy eggs, healthy sperm, a normal fertilization process, and the normal development of the fetus.
Did you know that it takes about 2 months to create a new healthy sperm, while the maturation of the eggs occurs about 100 days before ovulation? This means that your diet, lifestyle and state of health today will affect your reproductive system 2 to 3 months from now.
Diet and Exercise
The optimal well-being that a person can have is essential for his health and fertility. Following a sensible diet and exercise program can enhance the health of your reproductive system. A healthy diet that includes whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds as well as some protein products such as meat, fish eggs or milk are essential for both partners. Also do not forget to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water daily.
Vitamins and minerals with minerals
Although the consumption of vitamins and minerals is not a substitute for a low-choice diet, it is a useful addition to the pre-pregnancy diet. Women can take supplements of zinc, vitamin C, B6 and E, as well as magnesium and potassium, although few supplements have been tested for their effectiveness. The administration of folic acid to women of childbearing potential before conception and in the early stages of pregnancy reduces the risk of developing central nervous system abnormalities, such as spina bifida.
Abuse of dietary supplements, however, can be harmful. Also, many women have iron deficiency as a result of menstruation and inadequate iron intake through diet. Iron deficiency can lead to fatigue and anemia. Iron is included in red meat and its rate of intake from food is limited. During pregnancy the baby will need about 1 gram of iron from the mother in order to develop its own muscles and blood, so many women take iron supplements during pregnancy.
Men can use vitamins E, C, zinc and selenium to improve their fertility, but there is no scientific evidence to support this benefit.
In order to maintain a satisfactory level of activity and a healthy weight, try to exercise regularly 3 times a week, for about 30 minutes at a time without exaggeration. We suggest that you discuss the type and level of exercises you are interested in with your doctor.
There is a clear correlation between weight and fertility, and being significantly obese or obese can lead to conception problems. As the weight goes beyond normal, fertility decreases and the rate of miscarriage increases. If a woman is obese, losing even 5 kilos of weight can affect her chances of conceiving favorably. Weight loss, however, is not an easy task and requires willpower and diligent attention to reduce food intake. There are many ways to adopt a reduced energy intake program (through a nutritionist). For underweight women even a small increase in body weight can improve fertility dramatically.
In addition to the already known risks associated with smoking, women who smoke are twice as likely to have fertility problems as women who do not smoke. They are also at greater risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight babies. In addition, women who smoke have a poorer response to assisted reproductive therapies, menopause begins earlier, and are more likely to have a fetus that is delayed in development, have congenital anomalies, or even die.
Male smokers show a decrease in sperm count, as well as in the motility and morphology of the latter. It has been observed that children from men who smoke have increased rates of birth defects, childhood cancers and asthma. It is therefore advisable to reduce and stop smoking before conception.
Use of prohibited substances
The use of any drugs or illicit substances must be avoided due to the potential adverse effects on the individual and the fetus. Their use has been found to be linked to problems with spermatogenesis in men, changes in mood psychology, memory problems, and possibly birth defects.
Some medicines can adversely affect fertility as well as the health of the developing fetus. However in some cases the benefit of taking a medicine outweighs the risks involved and it depends on the medical condition we want to treat. Formulations that cause genetic abnormalities should of course be avoided or a safer product should be preferred. Talk to your doctor about taking medication before you start trying to conceive.
It is not certain that caffeine has a negative effect on female fertility, but it has been associated with a risk of miscarriage. Caffeine is found not only in coffee but also in tea, cola, chocolate, certain foods and medicines.
Certain household products or activities can expose individuals to toxins such as heavy metals, chemicals and organic solvents. Women’s exposure to them should be avoided or limited, as heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, copper and aluminum are involved in important enzyme systems that are critical to reproductive health and fetal development. .
The relationship between stress and infertility is complex, but there is evidence that stress and depression can both contribute to infertility. Various studies have shown that infertile women who indulge in a range of stress-reducing techniques, such as relaxation techniques (eg yoga, Pilates, etc.) have higher pregnancy rates than women who do not learn such techniques.
Under normal circumstances, hypnosis, meditation and relaxation exercises reduce blood pressure, heart rate and the production of stress hormones. If individuals focus on mind and body care, then this allows them to take more responsibility and manage their fertility.
Difficulty in conceiving is psychologically stressful for the couple and their partners separately. Many couples do not want to discuss infertility problems with their family or friends and therefore do not have enough support.
However, there are times when family and friends can increase the stress of couples in their endeavor. The help provided by IVF centers through psychologists or nursing staff can prove invaluable. There are also couples who find support in other infertile couples. It is very important for the man and the woman to share their concerns and to decide together the appropriate support that suits them.
Complementary therapies such as acupuncture, herbal remedies and aromatherapy are sometimes used but have not been shown to be beneficial. There is no scientific research to investigate the field of complementary therapies. Once a treatment proves to be beneficial it is not considered an alternative treatment – it will be used as a practice. In particular, taking herbal supplements can be harmful because they usually contain weak estrogens (phytoestrogens). You should definitely discuss the use of complementary or alternative medicines with your doctor.