Written by: Tara Kraf, WHNP
Often by the time women come in for infertility issues they have tried for some time to conceive and are looking for medical options, but the first steps that need to be taken are simple and should be done prior to seeking medical management.
As we have heard so many times before lifestyle changes play an important role, not only in general health but for fertility too. It is best to follow a well-balanced diet, low in saturated and trans fats with a focus on complex carbohydrates and protein from vegetarian rather than animal sources. Limit caffeine to less than 200 mg/day and alcohol intake to less than one drink a day, if at all. Cigarette smoking has been known to cause premature aging of eggs decreasing ovarian reserve by as much as 4 years. Smoking affects the male partner as well by decreasing both sperm concentration and motility.
Being underweight or overweight can also have a negative effect on fertility. Women with a BMI under 19 can significantly increase their chances of conceiving by gaining an average of 8 lbs. Women who are overweight can increase their chances of getting pregnant by losing as little as 10% of their body weight. Exercise is good for everyone but for those trying to conceive it should be limited to no more than 4 hours of strenuous activity per week.
Regular intercourse 2-3 times per week avoiding long periods of abstinence, which can decrease sperm counts. Lubricants that should be avoided are KY, Astroglide, Touch, Replens, olive oil and saliva with can decrease sperm motility. If lubrication is needed mineral oil, canola oil or Pre-seed should be used.
Prenatal vitamins with 800 mg of folic acid should be taken for 2-3 months prior to conceiving to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.