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Reproductive counseling

Helpful tips for
optimizing your fertility.

If you're trying to get pregnant, it makes sense to take whatever steps you can to optimize your fertility. Some of the advice below may be familiar. Some may be new. Either way, it's a good checklist to follow whether you're trying on your own or seeing a fertility specialist.

Take a multivitamin daily. All women who are trying to conceive should take either a multivitamin or a prenatal vitamin daily, to ensure that they are not deficient in folic acid. Folic acid deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of neural tube defects and other congenital abnormalities in fetuses. In addition, there is some evidence that folic acid may somehow directly stimulate ovulation, thus lowering the risk of ovulatory infertility.

Follow a healthy diet. Your body needs to be at its best. Eat whole grain foods such as wheat, brown rice, oranges and spinach that contain folic acid. Drink plenty of water. Consume unsaturated (rather than saturated) fats and omega-3 fats. Get more protein from vegetables and less from meat. Reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates.
Avoid smoking. There is evidence it may increase the risk of infertility in women and reduce sperm production in men.

Avoid alcohol. There is some evidence that even a moderate amount – as few as five drinks a week – can impair conception.

Reduce caffeine. There are conflicting studies on the impact of caffeine. However, some studies have found that caffeine drinkers may be more likely to have endometriosis as opposed to other causes of infertility. The general reccommendation is to limit your intake of caffinated beverages to one cup per day.
Exercise but don't overdo it. Aim for 30-60 minutes a day to maintain a healthy weight, improve cardiovascular health and relieve stress – all good things for fertility. However, use moderation. There is some evidence that too much exercise can impair ovulation. In some epidemiological studies, more than seven hours per week of aerobic exercise has been associated with ovulatory infertility. In women undergoing in vitro fertilization, four or more hours of strenuous exercise weekly over a period of years has been associated with poorer outcomes.
Try relaxation techniques. Even though infertility is very stressful, there isn't any proof that stress causes infertility. That said, stress can lead to other things that may affect fertility – such as eating poorly, getting too little sleep, smoking or drinking. Relaxation techniques – such as progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, meditation and imagery – can lower your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate. WRM offers free seminars every other month on living healthier and lowering stress, with Wellness and Nutrition Coach Anna Kowalska.
Avoid being underweight. If you're very thin, you may benefit from gaining some weight, as some body fat is needed to ovulate.

Avoid being overweight. Body fat levels 10%-15% above normal can lead to excess estrogen in the body, interfering with egg and sperm production. A study led by Dr. Van der Steeg, in the December 2007 issue of the journal Human Reproduction, showed that even among women who regularly ovulate, those with a high body mass index (BMI) had a lower than normal chance of getting pregnant. In fact, for every BMI unit over 29, the chance of pregnancy fell 4%. Women with a BMI between 35-40 had a 23%-43% less chance of achieving pregnancy compared to women below 29. In addition a high bmi has baeen linked to an increased risk of congenital heart defects.

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*Individual results may vary.