Making Lifestyle Changes That Positively Affect Fertility and IVF Success
When you’re trying to conceive it’s a hopeful time in your life. There may also be disappointment, worry and stress. If you’re considering fertility treatments or starting treatment at a fertility clinic, there are lifestyle changes you and your partner can make that will help reduce your stress, improve your health and, in some cases, have been shown to improve your chances of IVF success.
Quit Smoking Anything And Everything
Tobacco smoking has been linked to lowered fertility in both women and men. A woman who smokes is less likely to become pregnant from IVF and deliver a healthy baby than one who doesn’t smoke, according to Six Steps to Increased Fertility by Robert L. Barbieri, M.D.; Alice D. Domar, Ph.D. and Kevin R. Loughlin, M.D. (a Harvard University Health Publication by Free Press.) For men, smoking can contribute to atherosclerosis, narrowing of the arteries. Anything that restricts blood flow to the penis contributes to male impotence and infertility.
Some people think that smoking marijuana is less harmful than smoking tobacco. Studies have shown this is not the case. Marijuana smoking has been linked to diminished fertility. It also has been linked to the development of abnormally shaped sperm.
Eat Healthy, Lose a Little Weight
The Nurses’ Health Studies are among the longest-running, largest investigations of factors that influence women’s health. Recent results found that women who didn’t follow a healthy diet were six times more likely to experience infertility related to ovulation. Some recommendations for a healthier diet are to eat more vegetables and whole grains, watch the amount of fat in your diet, drink coffee, tea and alcohol in moderation, and eat more vegetable protein and less animal protein (meat.) Women who are trying to get pregnant should also take a folic acid supplement for their potential baby’s healthy development to prevent neural tube defects. Remember, they are called “pre-natal” vitamins because they have a positive effect before you even know you are pregnant.
Obesity is also associated with a higher rate of infertility. If you’re overweight or obese, losing five to 10 percent of your body weight can make a big difference to your health and may help you be more successful with IVF.
Being underweight also contributes to infertility and may cause women to stop ovulating, as excessive exercise can also do. Moderation in all things!
Manage That Stress
There is no proof that stress causes infertility, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM.) That said, ASRM’s fact sheet on stress and infertility states that many women who are being treated for infertility have as much stress as women who have cancer or heart disease! When it’s hard to get pregnant, women and men feel like they don’t have control of their bodies or their goal of having a family. Also, the physical aspects of fertility treatment and the cost of in vitro fertilization may add to your worries.
How can you lessen that stress?
Yoga, meditation, and acupuncture for stress reduction are all practices that help some people relax and reduce stress. Regular exercise helps many people cope with stress. Your fertility clinic may have a counselor who can help you or support groups for people going through treatment. You don’t have to deal with fertility issues alone.
It’s important, too, to decide how much fertility treatment you and your partner are willing to have and to discuss how you feel about alternatives such as donor eggs, donor sperm and adoption. It reduces the worry if you don’t get pregnant right away to have an agreed-upon “Plan B.”