Here’s what you need to know to promote and protect your fertility.
What is female fertility?
The capacity of a woman to conceive a biological child is known as female fertility. If you’ve been trying to conceive with frequent, unprotected sex for at least a year — or at least six months if you’re older than 35 — without success, you and your partner may start to doubt your fertility.
What causes female fertility problems?
Various medical issues can contribute to female fertility problems, including:
- The ovaries’ ability to release eggs is impacted by ovarian diseases. These include thyroid issues, polycystic ovarian syndrome, hyperprolactinemia, and other hormonal conditions (hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism).
- Uterine or cervical abnormalities, such as polyps or fibroids in the uterus.
- Fallopian tube damage or blockage is often caused by pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Endometriosis occurs when tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside the uterus.
- Primary ovarian insufficiency (early menopause) occurs when the ovaries stop working and menstruation ends before age 40.
- Pelvic adhesions — bands of scar tissue that bind organs after pelvic infection, appendicitis, or abdominal or pelvic surgery.
- Medical conditions associated with the absence of menstruation, such as poorly controlled diabetes, celiac disease, and some autoimmune diseases such as lupus.
Age also has an impact. Delaying pregnancy may make it more difficult for you to conceive. Age-related changes in your eggs’ quantity and quality make it more challenging to get pregnant.
What can I do to promote female fertility?
Healthy lifestyle choices can help you promote fertility. Take steps to:
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight or significantly underweight can inhibit normal ovulation.
Eat foods rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants like zinc and folate may increase male and female fertility.
They neutralize the body’s free radicals, which can harm both sperm and egg cells.
A 2012 study on young adult men discovered that daily consumption of 75 grams of antioxidant-rich walnuts enhanced the quality of their sperm. Increased folate intake was linked to higher chances of implantation, clinical pregnancy, and live birth, according to a study including 232 women.
Antioxidants may or may not significantly impact fertility, but research suggests that they may do so. Beneficial antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, folate, beta-carotene, and lutein, are abundant in foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. It shouldn’t be detrimental to the effort to eat more of these nutritious meals.
Eat a bigger breakfast
Eating a substantial breakfast may help women with fertility problems.
One study found that eating a larger breakfast may improve the hormonal effects of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a major cause of infertility.
Cut down on carbs
The majority of calories consumed at breakfast decreased insulin levels by 8% and testosterone levels by 50% in PCOS-afflicted women of moderate weight. High doses of either may exacerbate infertility. Additionally, these women ovulated more by the conclusion of the 12-week research than women who ate a smaller breakfast and a bigger dinner, indicating improved fertility.
Women with PCOS are typically advised to follow a lower-carb diet (where fewer than 45 % of calories originate from carbohydrates).
Numerous studies have shown that controlling carbohydrate intake has a positive impact on some elements of PCOS. Lower-carb diets may support menstruation regularity, help you maintain a healthy weight, lower insulin levels, and promote fat reduction.
However, it’s important to note that increasing the size of your breakfast without reducing the size of your evening meal is likely to lead to weight gain.
Regarding carbohydrates, it’s not simply their quantity but also their composition. Carbs that have been refined may be particularly harmful. Sugary meals, beverages, and processed grains, such as white pasta, bread, and rice, are examples of refined carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are absorbed relatively quickly, which raises insulin and blood sugar levels. Additionally, refined carbs have a high glycemic index (GI). The GI indicates a food’s potential to dramatically elevate your blood sugar.
Ovarian hormones and insulin share a similar chemical makeup. Our eggs mature with the aid of these hormones. Because the body believes it doesn’t need reproductive hormones when insulin levels are consistently elevated, this can lead to decreased hormone production. This may prevent ovulation and delay egg maturation.
Prevent sexually transmitted infections
Infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are a leading cause of infertility for women. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are important preventable causes of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility. Untreated, about 10-15% of women with chlamydia will develop PID. Chlamydia can also cause fallopian tube infection without any symptoms. PID and “silent” infection in the upper genital tract may cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding tissues, leading to infertility.
CDC recommends annual chlamydia and gonorrhea screening of all sexually active women younger than 25 years and older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.
Avoid the night shift, if possible
Regularly working the night shift might put you at a higher risk of infertility, possibly affecting hormone production. If you do work the night shift, try to get enough sleep when you’re not working.
Take time to relax
If you’re trying to conceive, stress is probably on the menu, too. As your stress levels increase, your chances of getting pregnant decrease. This is likely due to hormonal changes when you feel stressed.
Research on the links between stress and fertility is mixed, but there’s evidence that stress can suppress fertility. Receiving support and counselling may reduce anxiety and depression levels and increase your chances of becoming pregnant. And don’t forget to take time for yourself.
While stress won’t keep you from getting pregnant, consider minimizing stress and practising healthy coping methods — such as relaxation techniques — when trying to conceive.
What are off-limits?
Healthy lifestyle choices count here, too. To protect your fertility:
- Don’t smoke. Tobacco use is associated with lower fertility. Smoking ages your ovaries and depletes your eggs prematurely. If you smoke, ask your healthcare provider to help you quit.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Heavy drinking is associated with an increased risk of ovulation disorders. If you’d like to get pregnant, consider avoiding alcohol completely. Abstinence at conception and during pregnancy is generally recommended because a safe level of fetal alcohol consumption hasn’t been established.
- Curb caffeine. Female fertility doesn’t seem to be affected by caffeine intake below 200 milligrams a day. Consider limiting your caffeine intake to one or two 6- to 8-ounce cups of coffee a day.
- Be wary of overexercise. Too much vigorous physical activity can inhibit ovulation and reduce the production of the hormone progesterone. If you have a healthy weight and you’re thinking of becoming pregnant soon, consider limiting vigorous physical activity to less than five hours a week.
- Avoid exposure to toxins. Environmental pollutants and toxins — such as pesticides, dry-cleaning solvents, and lead — can adversely affect fertility.
How can Super Health Chatswood Medical Centre?
Dietician at your service
Since your diet and healthy eating habits affect your fertility, our dietician can help you! Dietitians have undergone rigorous coursework throughout their accredited university degrees and meet the criteria necessary for accreditation with the DAA. Dietitians mainly deal with patients suffering from a disease, and unlike a nutritionist, they can assess, diagnose, and treat dietary and nutritional problems both in individual and group settings.
If you or a family member are struggling with their relationship with food and need a helping hand, then we have a dietitian that Chatswood residents can rely on for advice, guidance, and support.
Physiotherapist for fertility support
Physiotherapy isn’t just about helping improve mobility. It also involves physiotherapeutic care for women who are struggling to become pregnant. So before signing up for IVF treatment, why not try a spot of physical therapy first? Our physiotherapist can help women suffering from conditions such as:
- Gynaecological surgery
- Abdominal Separation
- Painful sex
- Pelvic Pain
Suffering from infertility can be extremely stressful, so we do all we can to help reduce that stress.
If you’re looking for the best physio or dietitian Chatswood has to offer, there’s only one name to remember, and that’s Super Health Chatswood Medical Centre. Call us today at (02) 9884 9300, so we can schedule an appointment for you!
If you’re considering becoming pregnant and concerned about the impact of your lifestyle choices on your fertility, consult your healthcare provider. He or she can help you identify ways to improve your fertility and boost your chances of getting pregnant.