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A New Year: Increasing Your Chance of Reproductive Success

A blog by Beth A. McAvey, MD, Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, January 13, 2016

If your goals for the year have more to do with adding a new addition to the family than losing weight or quitting a habit, it may be time to consult a reproductive specialist and discuss a customized plan to increase your chances of reproductive success. The medical issues that need to be addressed when a woman is struggling to conceive are real, and often require the assistance of an experienced reproductive endocrinologist. Focusing on small changes can boost your overall health, may facilitate conception and ease stress that often accompanies the fertility journey. Here are six steps that you can take to boost your chances of reproductive success:

  • Reduce Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption
    Although many articles praise the benefits of daily red wine intake, it is well established that even a small amount of alcohol may interfere with an embryo’s ability to successfully implant in your uterus, thus decreasing pregnancy success and health. As for caffeine intake, it is best to limit daily intake to 200 mg per day, which equals ~ a 12 ounce cup. It is important to remember that caffeine exists not only in coffee, but in tea, chocolate and soda.
  • Go Organic
    There’s a growing body of evidence pointing to the negative effect that pesticides and herbicides can have on both male and female fertility – for males, it can diminish sperm count and for women it may disrupt the menstrual cycle. When you are buying your dairy, fruits and vegetables, consider opting for organically-treated food.
  • Stop Smoking
    Pregnant or not-pregnant, there is absolutely no benefit in smoking. Cigarettes contain harmful toxins that may cause damage to not only your lungs and heart, but may have a harmful effect on male and female infertility. Women who smoke have a faster decline of ovarian function and have lower success rates from assisted reproductive technologies, such as in-vitro fertilization. Furthermore, smoking is known to be extremely detrimental during pregnancy. It would benefit your health greatly to take steps to quit today.
  • Up Your Nutritional Game
    Taking your vitamins is a start, but nothing beats eating the foods that contain the nutrients you need. Although there’s no truth to rumors about any particular food increasing your chances of conceiving, there are certain nutrients – including protein, zinc, iron, and vitamins C and D that can undermine your chances of conceiving if your levels are low. Increase the fruits and vegetables in your diet and focus on getting plenty of low-fat dairy products, meat, fish and eggs, legumes and other protein-rich foods.
  • Pay Attention to Body Fat: Plus and Minus
    When it comes to getting pregnant, extremes of weight, both underweight and overweight, may make conceiving difficult, especially in regards to regular ovulation. Ovulation is disrupted by the overproduction or underproduction of hormones, and those levels can be directly affected by the percentage of body fat. Exercise enough to keep yourself healthy and at a normal weight, but don’t overdo it, and eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Nourish the Mind Too
    While you’re busy paying attention to what you’re putting into your body, feeding it the healthiest foods and cutting out toxins, remember to put the same amount of effort into the way you’re treating your mind. Studies have shown that the higher a woman’s levels of stress biomarkers are, the lower their chance of getting pregnant. Some of the best ways to diminish stress include mindfulness meditation or yoga. And make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep too!

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