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12 Fertility New Year’s Resolutions for 2012

a blog by the Fertility Doctors at Fertility Centers of Illinois, December 21, 2011

With the start of a new year there are always well-intended resolutions to follow. Some of those resolutions may be aimed at increasing your fertility. Here are some little-known fertility boosting tips you may not be aware of, as well as others you may want to work on. Kevin Lederer, M.D., a fertility doctor with Fertility Centers of Illinois, has detailed 12 New Year’s resolutions for couples to add to their 2012 checklist.

“There are many health and well-being basics which couples are aware of, but other small changes can help increase fertility," he explains. "Couples can start these tips in the New Year to become happier, healthier and more fertile.

Dr. Lederer suggests couples consider the following 12 resolutions during the 2012 New Year:

  1. Cut out trans-fats, but not for your heart. Everyone knows that trans-fats are not heart-healthy, but did you know that they are associated with a higher risk of infertility? Trans-fats can cause ovulation problems and have been linked with a higher risk of endometriosis.
  2. Both of you should take folic acid. It has long been known that women should take folic acid while trying to conceive and during pregnancy to prevent certain birth defects, but folic acid is now known to be an important supplement in male fertility. Researchers at the University of California found that men had a higher rate of chromosomal abnormalities in their sperm when their diet was low in folic acid.
  3. Get a fertility check-up. If you’ve been trying to conceive or are looking to begin, a fertility check-up can provide insight on your family planning goals. Many clinics offer affordable check-ups for couples starting their family planning. FCI offers a fertility check-up for only $90, which provides basic testing for couples and can be credited towards future treatment.
  4. Laugh every day. The lower your stress levels, the better your conception odds. Laughter increases endorphins and neurotransmitters while also reducing stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, dopamine and growth hormone. Make it a point to bellow a big-hearted laugh every single day.
  5. If you get a cold or cough, opt for Robitussin or Mucinex. Cold and cough products contain Guaifenesin, which is found in medications such as Robitussin or Mucinex. Guaifenesin loosens and thins mucus at the source of your sickness, as well as in your cervix. Thinner cervical mucus can help sperm get where they need to go. If you get sick, get strategic!
  6. Have sex in the morning, not at night. Just as you time sexual activity with your ovulation, time it with his peak fertility as well. Research shows that the male sperm count is highest in the morning, so clear your morning agenda and postpone the pancakes.
  7. Stop smoking. Cutting out cigarettes is an obvious health advantage, but many couples don’t realize how harmful cigarettes can be. A report by the British Medical Association showed that smokers may have up to a 10 to 40 percent lower monthly fecundity (a.k.a. fertility) rate. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has estimated that up to 13 percent of infertility may be caused by tobacco use. The effect is dose dependent on the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Smoking as few as five cigarettes per day has been associated with lower fertility rates in males and females.
  8. Limit alcohol, but don’t cut it out. High alcohol intake of more than nine drinks per week is associated with decreased fertility. Low alcohol use (four drinks per week) seems to have no impact on fertility, while moderate alcohol use (four to nine drinks per week) appears to be associated with an increased chance of conceiving. Drinking is OK, but don’t drink more than moderately. When pregnant however, there is no known safe level of alcohol. Drinking during pregnancy is not advisable.
  9. Maintain a healthy weight and get active, but don’t overdo it. This will vary from person to person based on their body and current exercise regimen. Being physically active and at a healthy weight is crucial in maintaining health and optimal fertility, as weight gain can lead to ovulation problems and difficulty in getting pregnant. It has been found that even a 15 percent decrease in body mass index can have a beneficial impact on fertility. Conversely, going from a couch potato to marathon training may disrupt your menstrual cycle and complicate embryo implantation during in vitro fertilization (IVF). Get active and train for a 10k, join a morning boot camp or take up yoga.
  10. Get a laptop fan, keep cell phones in the back pocket and limit bicycle time. A recent study in Fertility and Sterility found that the heat created from laptops can affect sperm motility and cause DNA damage. Cell phone emissions can also cause sperm damage, so keep phones in the back pocket and put a fan under your laptop. Men should also be careful of putting too much time on the bike. Overheating the testes can reduce sperm count.
  11. Don’t burn the candle at both ends. When your body doesn’t get the sleep it needs, there can be disastrous side effects, whether you are trying to conceive or not. Research shows that the hormone leptin, which has a critical role in female fertility, is reduced when the body is deprived of sleep. No matter what, be sure to get at least seven hours of sleep a night.
  12. Stick to a healthy eating pattern and cut carbs. It’s easy to fall into an eating pattern that is less than ideal, such as skipping breakfast, opting for an unhealthy lunch, eating a late dinner and taking in too much sugar, fat and starchy carbohydrates. Carbohydrates can lead to the production of ovarian hormones that can interfere in ovulation, causing particular harm to women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or ovulatory problems. Eat fresh fruits and veggies and snack regularly to keep your body nourished and running at top fertile speed.

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