Women's Health, Pregnancy | December 17, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Approximately 20 per cent of couple’s experience fertility difficulties. In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a process of fertilisation where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body. An assisted reproductive technology such as IVF is a common choice for many Australian couples facing infertility issues.
But did you know there are lots of things you can do to boost your odds of conceiving during this process? We’ll discuss the evidence of implementing certain lifestyle and dietary factors to improve your chances of conception while undergoing IVF.
IVF is the process of fertilising eggs with sperm outside of the human body. Once the eggs are fertilised, the resulting embryos are placed in the woman’s uterus in the hope that a successful pregnancy will follow. IVF involves many steps over several weeks such as:
Obesity in women significantly increases the rate of infertility. It is also associated with a greater use of IVF procedures and decreased rates of conception using IVF compared to women who are within a healthy weight range. In women, being overweight can lead to hormonal imbalances, conditions such as PCOS, and problems with ovulation.
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During pregnancy, obesity increases your risk of complications such as gestational diabetes, blood clots, infection, high blood pressure, miscarriage, induced labour, caesarean section and stillbirth. Children born to women who are overweight have a higher likelihood of suffering from childhood obesity and other chronic health conditions.
Being very overweight can affect a man’s fertility. For men, getting into shape at least three months before conception can improve their chance of conception and the health of their future baby.
Being underweight is another factor that affects fertility. If your body mass index (BMI) is less than 18.5, research has found that it can take longer to conceive.
Regular physical exercise can help shed those excess kilos and increase your chance of falling pregnant. Exercising with your partner every day is a great way to work towards your health goals together. Avoid excessive exercise as this has been linked to reduced fertility rates.
If you want to improve your chance of having a baby it’s a good idea to stop smoking. In fact, it’s recommended you cease smoking at least 3 months before starting IVF treatment.
What you eat can play a significant role in whether you conceive or not. A healthy diet also assists in weight reduction to achieve a BMI in the healthy weight range.
A 2010 study conducted by Dutch researchers observed that couples undergoing IVF or Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) who ate foods based on the Mediterranean style diet increased their chance of achieving a successful pregnancy.
By following the recommendations in the Mediterranean diet, intake of omega-3 essential fatty acids are usually higher.
It is recommended that women planning to conceive consume 85g of fish which contain low concentrations of methyl mercury twice a week.
Fish that contain high amounts of mercury such as shark, swordfish, mackerel and certain species of tuna should be completely avoided, even in males.
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Adequate intake of omega-3 significantly contributes to E2 levels and as such to the number of follicles and embryo morphology. For males the presence of omega-3 fatty acids in sperm ensures that they are kept fluid and flexible –factors which improve sperm quality.
Prevention of oxidative stress is vital to maintain normal reproductive function in both men and women. This is achieved by ensuring adequate amounts of antioxidants in the diet and in supplemental form if necessary.
Arginine is an amino acid that is required for improved blood flow, the production of sperm and embryos and hormone secretion. In men it increases healthy sperm and in females it improved ovarian response by increasing the number of oocytes collected and embryos transferred and improved pregnancy rates in women undergoing IVF.
Other important antioxidant nutrients include vitamin C, bioflavonoids, selenium, vitamin A/beta-carotene, vitamin E, zinc, B vitamins and co-enzyme Q10. Most of these can be found in a good quality multivitamin or preconception formula.
A deficiency in iron, iodine, magnesium, calcium and Vitamin D can also have a negative impact on fertility. Visit your doctor or naturopath to assess your levels of nutrients.
Hechtman L (2014). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Australia
Vujkovic M, et al. The preconception Mediterranean dietary pattern in couples undergoing in vitro fertilization/intracytoplasmic sperm injection treatment increases the chance of pregnancy. Fertil Steril. 2010 Nov;94(6):2096-101