Optimising your fertility
As we head into a new year, now is a great time to pause and reflect on where things are at with your body and your health. Here at Repromed our aim is to assist you in optimising your fertility for the coming year. There are several lifestyle changes that you can make that are proven to influence or enhance your chances of getting pregnant, whether you’re male or female.
For men, it takes around three months for sperm to mature in the testes before they’re ready to successfully fertilise an egg. That’s why consideration of health choices ahead of ‘trying time’ can make all the difference to sperm quality.
If you have been trying for a baby unsuccessfully for 12 months, you may need some help. In the meantime, here are a few of our top tips for making sure you’re giving yourself the best shot, if you are starting out on this journey.
1. The age factor
The combined age of both partners determines the chances of pregnancy. The younger the man, the more active and higher quality the sperm will be.
If you’re a woman aged 35 years or older, the sooner you start into trying for a baby, the better your chances will be of getting pregnant. Women are born with all the eggs they will have for their lifetime. Research shows female fertility is on average static until 30 years of age, then declines in the late 30s and early 40s. As you get older, your egg quality also declines.
Considering how age affects fertility means you may decide to talk to your partner and your doctor about having a baby sooner rather than later. If it’s not the right point in time for this right now, you may want to consider freezing some eggs that can be used in the future.
2. Stress less!
It’s a well-established fact that stress saps our bodies’ resources and can have a serious impact on fertility for women and men, too. Studies suggest stress can reduce sperm and semen quality, which could have implications for male fertility.
There’s some simple things you can do when stress is building. Take a deep breath, slow down, assess the task or the day ahead, spend time outdoors, and spend time winding down in the evenings. Mindfulness is a helpful tool to pull you back to the present when it all feels a bit much. The Insight Timer App is a great place to start, featuring guided mediations, music and talks. If there are bigger things going on for you, you might like to consider counselling to help you navigate things.
3. Keep moving
A healthy lifestyle is a huge part of preconception care, and exercise is a big part of this! Regular exercise can really help your chances of conceiving.
If you are not big on exercise, choose low-impact activities that keep you moving without triggering a stress response. Keeping your heart rate up will boost your overall well-being, and keep your body strong and healthy. Think swimming, yoga, pilates, and brisk walks.
Men; be mindful when using gym supplements as they may contain substances that aren’t great for health. High levels of testosterone or any steroids will severely compromise sperm quality.
4. Get colourful with diet!
When it comes to diet, eat the rainbow for fertility-boosting antioxidant intake: think berries, green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables, and red cabbage. Be sure to get plenty of good fats from foods such as avocados, olive oil, and salmon, and round out your diet with lean protein and whole grains.
Healthy, whole foods can have a significant impact on chances of conceiving for men and women. Maintaining a balanced weight will make you feel great along the way.
5. Cut the caffeine
As much as we hate to admit it, caffeine is a drug, and can reduce your body’s ability to absorb iron: a critical mineral for healthy conception and pregnancy. You can still enjoy coffee in small quantities, but we recommend limiting yourself to one a day.
For a guide to caffeine content from Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, click here: https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/generalissues/Pages/Caffeine.aspx
6. Switch out the alcohol
Studies show the effects of alcohol are significant, damaging both sperm and egg before conception, as well as causing harm during pregnancy.
Replace your rosé this summer with sparkling mineral water spiked with fruit, fresh mint, or cinnamon sticks to help make reducing your alcohol intake a little easier. Or if you miss the flavour of your favourite beer or cider, look at switching to a zero alcohol variety.
7. Smoking: kick the habit
If you’re a smoker, now is the time to quit. Smoking harms both egg and sperm, wreaks havoc on your hormones, and damages DNA. Your chances of conception will go up by 40% once you’ve kicked the habit, and your body will thank you.
8. Take a break from the WiFi
Men, take your sperm offline for the sake of your fertility. Dr Debbie Blake, Scientific Director at Repromed with over 30 years’ experience, cautions both men and women to think about our constant proximity to WiFi and mobile devices. “Let’s face it – none of us want to believe that WiFi is adversely affecting our health. It’s just too inconvenient. But when you are a reproductive scientist you can’t ignore the undeniable groundswell of research around the impact of wireless technology (specifically the electromagnetic and radiofrequency radiation) on our reproductive cells.”
Do your fertility a favour and give yourself a break from long hours near Wi-Fi and laptops. Dr Blake’s advice? Simply minimise the duration, and distance yourself from the sources of radiation you can control such as mobile phones, wireless laptops and routers.
Here at Repromed, we’re here to help! We’re proud to provide fertility treatment with heart. We’re based in Auckland, and both public and private treatment is available and all are welcome. Contact us to book a free 15-minute phone consultation with a fertility doctor free of charge to learn more about your options. Email or call 0800 483 105 to book.
Individual results may vary dependent on your personal circumstances.