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The Fertility Lifestyle
a blog by Suzanne Rico, August 22, 2012
I have to admit, I never thought the tight pink Dittos I wore in high school might diminish my ability to have a baby. Or the Freshman Fifteen I put on my first year of college — or the anxiety of being a teenager in general. But over the last few weeks, news stories have come out that tight pants, obesity and stress can lower your fertility quotient, and eating walnuts can have the opposite effect.
It is true that lifestyle, past history and high anxiety come into play when trying to have a baby. Remember — a woman in her 20s with no fertility issues has only a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant each month when diligently trying, so even though most women spend their fertile years trying NOT to get knocked up, it’s actually not that easy. That means for those of us who’ve spent our future baby’s college fund on IVF, PGD, ICSI and IUI, keeping our bodies and our minds healthy is an invaluable component of success.
So, where does one go to learn ways of turning the body into a baby-making machine? And how do you ensure those ways are backed up by science and research? One resource is a website that organizes information on lifestyle choices during infertility into categories and includes the actual research studies that show these choices can increase the odds of conception. The website, www.lifechoicesandfertility.com, was the brainchild of David Meldrum, M.D., a fertility doctor with Reproductive Partners Medical Group in the Los Angeles area.
“It’s turning out that infertility is a “wake-up call” for general health," Dr. Meldrum says. "Many recent studies show that a healthy lifestyle boosts fertility and the likelihood of being successful with fertility treatments. As just one example, a study from Harvard presented last month highlighted the importance of monounsaturated fat intake for fertility. We’ve all heard that olive oil, avocados and nuts are good for health and longevity, and in the Harvard study, women in the upper third of monounsaturated intake had an IVF success rate about three and a half times higher than women in the lower third!”
I adopted a fertility enhancing lifestyle after my first two IVFs ended in miscarriage. And while I didn’t exactly stop wearing tight jeans — I live in Los Angeles, after all — I changed my diet, began exercising more moderately and signed up for a pregnancy yoga class (not because I was pregnant, but because it relaxed me and felt good to be around all this maternal energy). Feeling like I was taking charge of my own fertility gave me purpose and cut down on stress — and the next time I tried IVF, it worked.