Infertility & Preconception Care
Infertility & Preconception Care
How we go about preconception care is so very important for our baby’s and our health. Infertility issues are so devastating, exhausting and disappointing. There can be many reasons for infertility both known and unknown. One thing that is extremely important and sometimes disregarded is the importance of preparing both male and female bodies in the best possible state to have a baby – this is really preconception care. While it is critical for those unable to fall pregnant, it is also important for all of us. Carefully creating a preconception plan becomes an central part of what we do. Getting ready to have a baby include eating wholefoods, sleeping well, avoiding environmental chemicals and reducing stress where ever possible. It is also important to optimize and rule out deficiencies in nutrient levels such as zinc, folate, iodine – all crucial for growing babies. These are extremely important checks that are easy to make. Checking for immune issues that may be interfering are also useful like infection or autoimmunity (especially thyroid). These are easily overlooked,and are important aspects of fertility and preconception care. Research shows that weight can influence fertility too. Ensuring that you are both in the best possible health really should be first line strategy. If these lifestyle modifications don’t assist fertility, its nice to know that your body is in a healthy place, ready for either IUI or IVF treatment.
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What’s Going On With Infertility?
Why has infertility become such a massive problem? Are we waiting too long until we start trying to conceive? Are we more stressed out than our ancestors? Are we exposed to more chemicals then we previously were? Are our diets as good as they were in the past? What are our immune systems doing? These are actually the very factors that are contributing to the growing levels of infertility! There can be many causes of infertility such as those listed below. Some are obvious and some less obvious, some effecting the men and others the ladies! Setting up an environment that will nourish and grow a baby should be something we enter into with joy and excitement, and just like we would anything, this important pre-planning, in preconception, can go a very long way with the rewards being reaped for years to come.
Causes of INFERTILITY
Here is a list of some of the more obvious causes of infertility:
- endometriosis – women with endometriosis also have a higher risk of allergies
- Blocked Fallopian tubes
- Thick cervical mucus
- Low sperm count
- Poor sperm size and shape
- Poor sperm motility and quality
- Ejaculation failure
- Age and quality of eggs
- Sexually transmitted infections – HIV, genital herpes, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhoea
- Immune disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Elevated thyroid antibodies , and hashimotos
- Heavy metal body load
- Parasitic infections
- Alcohol – the higher the use the more likely this can affect fertility
- Excessive exercise can affect sperm production and ovulation
- For women being underweight can affect menstrual cycle irregularities and can cause ovulation to stop
- For men, being underweight can affect sperm count and function
- For women, being overweight can cause blood glucose dysregulation affecting the eggs.
- Coeliac disease
Preconception Care A Must!
We recommend any couple who is wanting to conceive to consider appropriate preconception testing to ensure that there are no nutritional deficiencies such as iron, vitamin D, B12, iodine, selenium, zinc and especially folate. Checking for any immune issues, autoimmunity, allergies, metabolic problems such and other hormones are important. Creating good eating, exercise and sleep habits are critical in setting up the right environment for a developing baby. You don’t need to wait till there are fertility issues before starting on the above.
What To Do If You Can’t Conceive?
The first aspect and very important factor to consider in infertility is that both the male and the female should be checked for not only ovarian and sperm problems, but also the many nutritional, immune and environmental tests that can effect fertility, such as those mentioned earlier. The research shows that there are many lifestyle factors that can block fertility and so a lifestyle overhaul should be seriously considered! Not only to increase your chances of conception, but to improve your own health, increase energy and set up healthy habits in which to bring a child in. This does not need to be difficult and if undertaken together, you can have a lot of fun with the changes.
Tips & Bits
- For those wanting a different perspective on babyhood check out the book – The Continuum Concept.
- The evidence around folic acid preventing neural tube defects has been around for a long time, and now vitamin B3 (niacin) is showing that it prevents congenital malformation – do not underestimate the power of nutrients – they may be small but they are so powerful!