Reproductive Health: Boost Your Fertility

Can You Increase Your Chances Of Pregnancy? There are both medical treatments and natural options to help you and your partner improve your reproductive health and hopefully have a baby.

What is reproductive health?

Each year, millions of adults experience fertility problems that make it difficult to conceive.

About 85% of couples conceive within a year of trying. Often, they can get pregnant within a few months of trying. The 15% who don’t get pregnant within a year of trying have reproductive health or fertility issues, although about half of these couples conceive within 2 years.

“Usually when a couple comes to my clinic, they’re already trying to get pregnant on their own for 6 months to a year. If you are over 35, it is a good idea to come after 6 months of trying. However, some people don’t like the medicalization of their privacy, so they can wait years “to see a reproductive endocrinologist or fertility specialist,” says Ruben Alvero, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford Medical School.

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A rule of thumb is to see a fertility specialist if you’ve been trying for a year and haven’t conceived, or after 6 months if you’re a woman 35 or older.

Before seeing a fertility specialist, use an over-the-counter ovulation test to track your ovulation. This usually happens around day 14 of the menstrual cycle, Alvero says. Try to have sex at least every other day from day 10 of your cycle, as each viable egg only lasts for about 12 hours in your fallopian tube.

What are the causes of fertility problems?

For women, age is the most common reason for fertility problems, but there are a wide variety of reasons why some couples have trouble conceiving on their own, Alvero says.

“In about 65% of couples with fertility issues, we find a physical cause and depending on what it is, we can treat it.” Both partners may have a fertility assessment, including:

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Common causes of infertility are blocked fallopian tubes, fibroids, low quality or quantity of a woman’s eggs, infrequent ovulation, or in about 35% of men, low quality or quantity of viable sperm. , he said. Chronic diseases like diabetes, celiac disease, lupus, or thyroid problems can reduce fertility.

“Obesity can also have a very detrimental effect on your fertility,” says Alvero. “In women, low body weight can also have a negative impact on their fertility. My advice to patients is that if you are overweight or obese, even losing 5% to 10% of your body weight can dramatically improve your chances of getting pregnant and make your pregnancy healthier. “

Obese men may have lower sperm production or mobility, so sperm cannot settle quickly for conception to occur. Men who are trying to conceive also need to manage their weight.

Environment and way of life

If you are trying to conceive, watch out for harmful chemicals at work or in your daily life, such as lead or cigarette smoke, which could reduce the quality of semen. Women’s fertility can also be affected by exposure to chemicals, says Jaclyn Chasse, ND, a naturopathic doctor licensed with Perfect Fertility in Boston.

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“There are many compounds in our environment that can harm your reproductive health. For example, some chemicals used in beauty products or pesticides in our food, or even BPA, a chemical used in plastics to make beverage bottles, ”she says. People who may be exposed to chemicals at work should wear protective clothing, gloves and masks to prevent contact with toxins.

Even a few simple changes to your diet and lifestyle could improve your chances of conception, says Chasse.

“It’s a little boring, but start with the basics, like the foods you eat, the quality of your sleep, and the level of stress.” She measures patients’ sex hormones and tracks ovulation, and suggests ways to improve their nutrition and overall health. “I talk to my patients about their use of tobacco, alcohol or marijuana. People are so stressed out these days that they can turn to alcohol or marijuana as an outlet. “Smoking tobacco or pot can affect the quality of sperm or eggs.

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Here are some simple changes you can make to improve your reproductive health:

  • Have frequent sex, especially 5 days before and after ovulation.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Cut down on your caffeine intake if you are a woman.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Women who are too heavy or too thin may have reduced fertility.
  • Exposure to heat can lower sperm count in men, so wear loose underwear, avoid hot tubs, and don’t put your laptop near your scrotum.
  • Have had plenty of sleep.
  • Try to avoid night work, which can interfere with hormone production.
  • Exercise regularly, but don’t overdo it! Excessive exercise can interfere with ovulation. Limit vigorous exercise to 5 hours or less per week if you are trying to get pregnant.
  • Take folic acid supplements to improve ovulation and, if you conceive, prevent birth defects.
  • Limit the consumption of meat to your diet. Eat more fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids or vegetable protein, which can improve ovulation.

Another tip for couples: Avoid unsolicited advice from family and friends, which is largely untrue, Alvero says.

“One thing I hate to hear from my patients is that a family member will say ‘relax’ to them. This puts the blame on the couple. This is not true. Relaxing or not stressing about it won’t really change your fertility, ”he says.

Medical treatments

Your exam and test results help your doctor customize your treatment plan, Alvero says. First, they can prescribe fertility medication, usually a pill called clomiphene citrate (Clomid). It is prescribed for women to improve ovulation and for men to increase testosterone. Anastrozole and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) are other drugs prescribed to increase male fertility.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI). If medications alone don’t lead to conception, your doctor may try intrauterine insemination (IUI), a procedure where sperm are placed in your uterus as an egg is released, Alvero says. At the end of four ovulation cycles, these treatments together have a cumulative pregnancy rate of 30% -35%.

“If you don’t get pregnant with clomiphene and IUI, we offer in vitro fertilization (IVF), the more aggressive treatment,” he says. “If your fallopian tubes are blocked, we go straight to IVF.”

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Surgery. Women with endometrial polyps, scar tissue or fibroids in the uterus, or pelvic adhesions may need surgery to improve the chances of conception. Men with a semen blockage may have surgery to restore normal flow.

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Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). IVF is the most common assisted reproductive technology. Your doctor will stimulate your ovaries to produce eggs, which are then collected and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. A few days after the embryos form, they are implanted in your uterus.

Other ART techniques that can help you conceive include:

  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a healthy sperm is injected into an egg. This can be done if the quality of the man’s semen is poor or if you have tried IVF several times without conceiving.
  • Assisted hatching, a procedure where the outer part of the embryo is opened or “hatched” to help it implant successfully in the lining of your uterus
  • Use of donor eggs or sperm if either partner’s own cells are not healthy enough for conception

Fertility treatments and ART may not be covered by insurance, says Alvero, who is president of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, a professional association that advocates for new laws that extend coverage for these treatments. “Patients don’t always have a lot of time and these insurance barriers delay care.”

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Above all, don’t give up on your dream of starting a family, says Chasse.

“People who come to see me may feel like they are at the end of the road. They feel hopeless, ”she said. “Helping couples conceive is the greatest honor for me. It is very satisfying.

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