If having a baby is on the list for 2014, there are some bad habits that you’ll want to break first. Not only will you improve your health, but your fertility will get a boost.
Guest post by Dr. Edward Marut
“Making some changes for the New Year can have a huge impact on helping couples trying to conceive” explains Dr. Edward Marut, Medical Director with Fertility Centers of Illinois. “Cutting down on coffee, getting more sleep and quitting smoking can be the difference between trying to have a baby and becoming pregnant.”Here are 10 bad habits to break in 2014 in order to supercharge your conception goals:
1. Lighting Up That Cigarette
We all know smoking is unhealthy, but the numbers speak louder than words. In a report by the British Medical Association, it was found that smokers may have a 10-40% lower monthly fecundity (fertility) rate. It is also estimated that up to 13% of infertility may be caused by tobacco use, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Cutting down won’t solve the problem – smoking as few as five cigarettes per day has been associated with lower fertility rates in males and females. Smoking, whether tobacco or marijuana, is also associated with miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, pregnancy complications and stillborn births – even if it’s the male partner doing the smoking.
2. Stop Stressing About Timing
Home ovulation kits and temperature charts don’t add anything if you are having intercourse two to four times per week. Should you have regular periods, your fertile zone is days 12-16. If your periods are not regular, see a reproductive endocrinologist and relieve yourself of the confusion and stress that comes with home testing.
3. Using Water-Based Lubricant
Water-based lubricants such as Astroglide and KY Jelly may inhibit sperm movement by 60-100 percent within 60 minutes of intercourse. If his swimmers can’t reach the prize, they can’t win the race. Instead, use natural oils, oil-based lubricants or even cooking oil, but be sure to keep allergies in mind. If you’re allergic to peanuts, then using peanut oil may not be the best choice. Pre-Seed lubricant is a commercial product that may even enhance motility (movement) of sperm.
4. “Saving Up” for Ovulation
If you’re abstaining from sex to “save up” for intercourse while you are ovulating, stop. There is no need to “save up” or have intercourse multiple times per day leading up to ovulation. Having a pleasurable sex life is important – don’t let trying to conceive interfere. Try to have sex two to four times per week, whenever it feels right.
5. Don’t Ignore your BMI Number
A number calculated using a person’s height and weight, the Body Mass Index is used as an indicator of obesity and weight issues. Extra weight
causes hormonal shifts that can affect ovulation and semen production, while being underweight can cause irregular or absent periods. It is ideal to have a Body Mass Index (BMI) that falls in the 20-25 range. The CDC provides a BMI calculator to help assess your BMI number. The good news: losing as little as 5-10 percent of body weight can significantly improve fertility potential in overweight patients. Keep in mind that being a little overweight is better than being underweight when trying to conceive.
6. Gorging On Junk Food
You aren’t getting the nutrition you need if you’re putting junk in your body. Limit or cut out sweets, processed foods, and saturated fats. Make meals that include fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, and don’t overdo carbohydrates. If you have too carbohydrates in your diet, it can lead to the production of ovarian hormones, which cause harm to women with PCOS and interfere with ovulation. But don’t punish yourself if you are craving sweets – a little bit of fun food doesn’t hurt, and giving in a little may relieve the urge to gorge on guilty pleasures.
7. Avoiding the Doctor
If you’ve been trying for a year and you’re under 35, or if you’ve been trying for six months and you’re over 35 and have not yet achieved a pregnancy, it’s time to talk to a specialist. There may be simple changes you can make to help achieve conception. Remember, knowledge is power! A consultation and basic fertility evaluation is an affordable way to evaluate fertility potential. If you are under 35, having basic testing done which returns normal results may allow for a few more cycles of trying without pursuing treatment.
8. Isolating Yourself
A study concluded that women with infertility felt as anxious and depressed as those diagnosed with cancer, hypertension, or recovering from a heart attack. Don’t walk your path alone. Talk to your partner, find a support group or forum where you can speak with others who can relate, or see a counselor (with your partner or alone). Know that approximately one in six couples experiences difficulty when trying to become pregnant – the odds are that someone you know is feeling the same way.
9. Getting a Venti at Starbucks
Even though up to two cups of coffee have been shown to be safe in pregnancy, exceeding that when trying to get pregnant may be counterproductive. One study showed that “women who consumed more than the equivalent of one cup of coffee per day were half as likely to become pregnant, per cycle, as women who drank less.” Downgrade your coffee cup size or opt for decaffeinated or half-caffeinated coffee. Remember, there is also caffeine in tea, cola and chocolate.
10. Burning the Candle at Both Ends
Not getting the sleep you need per night? No amount of “catch up” can make up for lost rest. Research has shown the hormone leptin, which has a critical role in female fertility, is reduced when the body is deprived of rest. Sleep for at least seven hours per night, and listen to your body’s needs.
Dr. Edward Marut is Medical Director with Fertility Centers of Illinois. Fertility Centers of Illinois is one of the leading fertility treatment practices in the United States, providing advanced reproductive endocrinology services in the Chicago area for more than 30 years. For more information visit www.fcionline.com