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June 25, 2019  
FIBROIDS1 NEWS: Feature Story

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  • Infertility and Lifestyle: What Men and Women Need

    Infertility and Lifestyle: What Men and Women Need to Know

    February 28, 2006

    By: Laurie Edwards for Fibroids1

    For couples experiencing difficulty in trying to conceive, almost anything seems worth a try, and there is usually no shortage of people dispensing their personal remedies. But well-meaning advice on relaxation, herbal remedies and other diet supplements can often cause more stress than anything else, and it’s hard to know what to endorse and what is just wishful thinking.

    Take Action
    Take simple steps to improve fertility

    Always consult with your physician before making diet and exercise changes. Moderation is important -- eating balanced meals, doing the right amount of exercise and maintaining low stress levels can help.

    Infertility affects both men and women, so make sure both partners have examined their daily routines and activities to make informed lifestyle choices.

    Multivitamins are important, but avoid herbs and herbal supplements, which are largely unregulated.

    While diet, exercise and stress reduction are important, there can be medical causes for infertility, so make sure you work closely with your physician.

    Infertility can be influenced by lifestyle behaviors and choices, and it isn’t just a woman’s concern. The good news is that there are several practical ways you can eliminate some of these more damaging factors that can prevent pregnancy.

    So what do we mean by the term infertility? Technically, it is defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying. More generally, it refers to not being able to carry a baby to full term. Infertility issues affect 6.1 million Americans a year.

    While most men’s problems with infertility relate to sperm production and motility, most women who struggle with infertility have trouble with ovulation. A woman’s ability to produce eggs begins to decline with age, especially once she reaches 35, making age a huge factor in reproduction.

    So what can you do in your everyday life? Everyone knows the old saying “You are what you eat.” Put it in the context of reproduction and this adage takes on a whole new meaning. If you want to be healthy and conceive an equally healthy baby, giving your body the proper nutrition is the first step in the right direction.

    According to experts at the American Fertility Association (AFA), the key is to eat the types of foods that most of us know that we should eat but don’t always. That’s right, lots of fruits and vegetables and three well-balanced meals a day that center on lean, low-fat proteins. Limit the intake of caffeine and alcohol; a glass of wine is okay, but moderate to heavy drinking can harm the shape and motility of a male’s sperm and can affect female ovulation.

    Body weight is another area of concern for couples looking to conceive, especially since being too thin or too overweight affects a woman’s reproductive capacity to a greater extent than a man’s.

    According to the AFA, a woman’s body is primed to conceive when the woman is within 15 percent of her ideal weight. A somewhat abstract term, it actually has less to do with aesthetics and more to do with the weight at which the body’s hormonal systems run most efficiently to allow ovulation.

    The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a standard measure of height to weight ratio and way to estimate your ideal weight range; the ideal range is about 19-25, overweight results range from 25-30 and above 30 is considered obese. To calculate your BMI, first find the square of your height in inches (i.e. multiply your height in inches by your height in inches). Then divide your weight in pounds by the square of you your height in inches. Take this number and multiply by 703. Women begin to experience problems with fertility when they are at less than 95 percent of their ideal weight or more than 125 percent of it.

    Why is being too thin a risk factor in terms of reproduction? Women who are too thin can have irregular periods or can stop ovulation altogether. No ovulation equals no conception.

    Weight isn’t solely a woman’s concern. Men who are too thin – usually classified as those whose BMI is under 18 – often have trouble with their libido and their sperm are less active.

    Much like weight, exercise can prove a tricky topic. Obviously, if overall good health is the goal, then exercise should play a part, but it’s all about moderation. Heavy runners, those who log more than 30 or 40 miles per week, can stop having periods. Even if avid runners, cyclists and other intense exercise enthusiasts have light periods, their high level of activity can interfere with the body’s natural progesterone levels, making it difficult for a potential embryo to implant.

    It’s not news to anyone that cigarette smoking is deleterious for your health, and it increases the likelihood of tubal pregnancies and other complications. But smoke isn’t the only environmental consideration you should have; pesticides, weed killers and paint thinners all contain chemicals that can harm sexual function and the production of healthy sperm.

    And don’t forget the impact of stress on overall health – putting extra pressure on yourself and your partner will do more harm than good.

    A lot of this boils down to common sense – the healthier you are, the more efficiently your reproductive systems run.

    Last updated: 28-Feb-06


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