Must know fertility facts - Part Two

By Kate Davies, RN, BSc(Hons), FP Cert - Fertility Nurse

Welcome to Part 2 of must-know fertility facts. I hope you found Part 1 useful and you are ready to find out a little more. If so, get comfortable, sit down with a cuppa, and read on. In this blog we look at the reasons for infertility and what steps you can make to help improve your fertility.

Physical Conditions

There are unfortunately a number of physical problems that can make it more difficult for a woman to conceive. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and fibroids to name but a few.
There can also be imbalances that influence our delicate female sex hormones, such as overactive or underactive thyroid.
There are certain medical conditions that may also make it difficult to conceive, such as diabetes, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Luckily, medical intervention can help a great deal. The important thing, if this is you, is to get help even before you want to try to conceive.
Men’s sperm can be compromised by certain medical conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes and mumps, again to mention but a few.

Lifestyle Factors

Environmental factors also impact: laptops are a big no no! Don’t put them on your laps, chaps! A laptop raises the temperature of the scrotum, in turn affecting sperm production. There is an observation I make when I meet a partner of a woman trying to conceive: does he have big thighs and hot hands? Nothing scientific to support this, but is he overweight (therefore the body fat warming up the genital area) and is it likely that his body temperature is constantly a little on the high side? In both men and women it’s important to consider your sexual health.
Have you had any previous sexually transmitted infections, some of which can impact on fertility, and, importantly, have you had a recent sexual health screen?
Kate’s Fertility Tip: I recommend that both you and your partner have a sexual health screen before you start trying to conceive. While you are at it, make sure that your cervical smear is in date too.
Weight issues are one of the common problems I see that affect our reproductive potential. Oestrogen is stored in body fat and is released into the body by our fat cells and this in turn suppresses the release of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) preventing ovulation. Therefore, if you are significantly overweight you may find it harder to become pregnant.
Equally, if you are significantly underweight your oestrogen production might fall and you may ovulate less or even stop ovulating altogether.
Kate’s Fertility Tip: I work out a woman’s body mass index (BMI) to determine whether she is within a health weight range. A healthy BMI is between 19-24. See your nurse to check that your weight is in the correct range.
Both the man and woman need to consider how they can optimize their fertility by giving consideration to nutrition. A well-balanced and organic diet plays an important part in conceiving. If you suffer from PCOS you may want to consider a gluten free, low sugar diet. There are even ‘super foods’ that can have a positive impact on your health (although currently little scientific evidence exists to support their benefit in maximising conception). The list is endless but pomegranates and blueberries are rich in antioxidants and packed full of crucial vitamins. Other super foods work on protecting the sperm and ovum, or in maintaining healthy secretions.
During a consultation, I assess which areas of nutrition are in need of a boost and then provide my patient with recommendations. Did you know that lifestyle such as smoking, drugs, alcohol and caffeine can all have detrimental effects on the quality of the ovum and sperm? This is a huge area, and one that I will go into greater detail in a future blog, but today let’s consider men and smoking. Research concludes that men who smoke have a 30-70% lower sperm count then men who are non-smokers. The good news though, is that just 3 months after stopping smoking a man's sperm will have made a huge improvement. After a year the time to conception for an ex-smoker is no greater than for a man who has never smoked.
Recent research has shown how stress impacts our ability to conceive. I like to think of it as the ‘mind-body’ effect. Psychological factors really do impact and are dependent on our stress levels, ability to cope with stress, and even our positivity. I encourage my patients to consider how they deal with stress, what are their triggers for stress and help them to develop strategies for coping with and, where possible, eliminating stress. Not easy when you are stressed because you can’t get pregnant! Stress and fertility is a huge area to discuss and, like the other lifestyle factors, a blog post for another day.
Kate’s Fertility Tip: If you are trying to conceive and feel that your ‘mind-body’ effect is a little out of kilter then consider reflexology or yoga, or start recording your fertility journey so you can be reminded of the positive days and see that, as well as bad days, there is hope too.

Book your FREE consultation with the OvuSense Fertility Nurse, Kate -  to assess your fertility potential, answer your burning fertility questions, get recommendations on how to optimize your fertility and have your charts analysed.

If you are an OvuSense customer you are entitled to a FREE 1 hour consult, if you are not currently using OvuSense you book a FREE 15 minute consultation. Consultations are held by Skype or Telephone. Don't see a time that suits you? Email Kate on