How can I boost my fertility?

Dr Minna Geisler MB BCh BAO MRCPI MRCOG

Consultant in Reproductive Medicine

Your genetic make up plays a significant role in fertility and when your egg reserves will start to decrease. There is no ‘wonder drug’ or lifestyle modification that can reverse the effects of age related fertility decline in women.

However, there are certainly lifestyle and dietary modifications that can be made that may improve the quality of the eggs remaining and therefore may boost your chances of pregnancy. Any improvements in health pre-conceptually will pay off in pregnancy for both your health and the health of your baby.

Lifestyle:

Stop smoking:

o Smoking has been proven to decrease egg numbers and women who smoke enter the menopause 5 years earlier than non-smokers
o Smoking produces free-radicals in the body that can affect the quality of your eggs- smokers going through IVF have a lower chance of success when compared with non-smokers

Alcohol:

o Look closely at alcohol intake, remember that one small glass of wine or one measure of spirits equals one unit of alcohol and a pint of beer equals two units.
o Stop drinking alcohol or limit to 2 units of alcohol per week. Evidence shows that women who drink more than 2 units per week in the month leading up to IVF treatment have lower chances of pregnancy.
o There is no known safe limit of alcohol in pregnancy and the recommendation is not to drink any alcohol once you are pregnant

Weight:

o Calculate your BMI- many online calculators are available for this.
o If your BMI is in the overweight or obese category it is important to lose weight. It may regulate ovulation and improve the chance of conception.
o Underweight has also been shown to impact on pregnancy rates and some women who have had rapid weight loss or are very underweight may not be ovulating regularly.

Exercise:

o Moderate exercise should be maintained and encouraged.
o Once pregnant, you are encouraged to keep up moderate exercise, avoiding heavy weights, contact sports and exercise that excessively raises your heart rate.
o Over-exercising can impact on hormone balance, ovulation and the regularity of menstrual cycles, making it harder to conceive.

Diet:

Free-radicals in our diet may be detrimental to egg quality. Therefore boost your intake of anti-oxidant rich foods to combat the effect of free-radicals in our diet and the environment

Increase:

• Fruit and vegetable intake to 5- 10 servings per day. Focus on berries, citrus fruits, avocados, sweet potatoes, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli
• Oily fish intake (salmon, mackerel, trout)- boost your Omega 3 and Vitamin D levels.
• Nuts, lentils seeds, eggs and beans, as an alternative source of protein to red meat.
• Wholegrains- replace white rice, pasta and bread with the wholegrain varieties to increase your intake of B complex vitamins and zinc.
• Water

Decrease:

• Red meat intake to a max of 2 servings per week. Avoid processed meats.
• Caffeine to a max of two cups of tea or coffee. Avoid caffeinated, sugary drinks e.g. red bull
• Ready-made meals, sugary snacks, cakes, crisps
• Hydrogenated oils (trans-fatty acids) e.g in crisps, fried food, processed foods. Replace with nut oils (sunflower, sesame etc) and olive oils

Supplementation:

There is no robust evidence in the medical literature that supplementation improves fertility but the following supplements may be helpful.

Folic acid:

All women who are actively trying for a baby or no longer using contraception should take 400µg of folic acid per day (and continue for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy) to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly, in their baby.

Vitamin D

As sunlight is our main source of Vitamin D, it is not surprising that most Irish people are low in this important Vitamin. While trying for a baby and in pregnancy you are advised to take 10µg of Vitamin D per day.

Vitamin A, C and E

These are good antioxidant vitamins. Be careful with daily dosage of Vitamin A and D (also E and K) as they are stored in the body (Vitamin B and C are excreted daily) and can potentially build up to toxic levels.

B complex Vitamins

Along with folic acid which is a member of the vitamin B family, Vitamins B6 and B12 in particular are important vitamins for health

Micronutrients:

Zinc, Selenium and manganese

Co-enzyme Q 10

A powerful antioxidant and particularly in higher doses for women over 35 (200-300mg per day, ideally in the active form of Ubiquinol).

Fish oils (not cod liver oil)

Contain high levels of Omega 3 essential fatty acid. Look for a supplement containing both DHA and EPA. Cod liver oil has high doses of Vitamin A which is not advised in pregnancy.

If these tips are still not helping you to conceive, why not book consultation with one of our experts here?

 

 

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