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Spring has arrived, along with National Infertility Awareness Week, and everyone is in spring cleaning mode. This is also a great time to look to your own body to clean out some cobwebs.
Let me share a story with you that illustrates one of the most common situations in my professional life.
I am sitting in my office across from a couple who wish to have a second child but are struggling to get pregnant. This is a frequent scenario and makes you wonder: What could possibly be the problem if just a few years earlier they were able to conceive without help?
Based on the medical information I reviewed, the woman’s reproductive system is in good shape. She has regular ovulation, open fallopian tubes and a healthy uterus.
However, her husband’s sperm count is subpar and he reports having lots of stress at work. He’s doing a lot of traveling and has gained 25 pounds since they had their two-year-old daughter. He also loves fast food, soda and doesn’t exercise.
The wife is also more than 20 pounds overweight and notes that sexual activity has diminished quite a bit, often missing intercourse around ovulation.
To create optimal conditions for conception, it’s essential they try to get in shape. At our office we have trained lifestyle consultants who specialize in creating personalized plans to help people accomplish this goal.
Here are a few of their tips to boost your natural fertility simply by helping your metabolism get rid of built-up metabolic waste products called free radicals and oxidative stress:
- Double up your walking, take the stairs, get out of breath twice a day
- Clean out your system by cutting your meal sizes and lower how many times you eat per day
- Check your Vitamin D level, confirm that your blood pressure and fasting blood sugars are normal
- Stop microwaving foods in plastic, Styrofoam or paper cups and cut out the sodas
- Double up on salads, fruits and veggies, instead of meat and potatoes/rice/pasta
The funny thing is that we all know what to do and how to live healthy, but we have such a hard time ditching our old habits.
It’s been my observation over the years, that concerns about future fertility seem to be the last thing on the minds of millennials. Mostly, they worry about how to prevent unwanted pregnancy and there is obviously nothing wrong with that. But when the subject of starting their families in their late 30s or early 40s comes up, there is this sense of, “I can do it just like all those celebrities who you read about having twins in their thirties do it.”
Little do they know about all the emotional and financial hardship associated with often frustrating fertility treatments, after the eggs have aged, and the sperm production is not what it used to be.
Fortunately, there is quite a bit everybody can do to optimize their chances of conceiving in the future.
Sadly, there is nobody more motivated to try whatever aggressive, unproven, experimental and even costly treatment, than infertile patients. Interestingly, they are more eager to follow recommendations pertaining to their general health, lifestyle and eating habits than the average infertile patient that has yet to be exposed to all the conventional medications.
Still, too many of these patients with all their prior treatment failures fall into the trap of more must be better. In reality, adhering to healthy habits may make more of a difference for them than any medication regimen.
Sometimes a coach or trainer works, and even just joining a group of like-minded friends or family can do the trick. Sticking with the program, monitoring your success and sharing your results with everybody around you can also be so rewarding.
If one analyzes carefully how the most successful IVF programs in the U.S. prepare their patients, it becomes very clear that nutritional counseling plays a big role. Attention to metabolic parameters such as inflammatory indicators, lack of Vitamin D, or an underperforming thyroid gland, can tip the scale towards better success without breaking the bank or requiring unrealistic sacrifice.
In fact, with the proper guidance, a well-designed plan can be a lot of fun to implement. Many of my patients have gotten pregnant in the process and are living proof of the amazing benefits a lifestyle adjustment can provide.
So, good luck and have a great and fruitful springtime.