Fertility in both men and women is declining. Infertility affects around 1 in 6 couples in Canada, according to Stats Canada. Since the 1980s, this figure has more than doubled. It is essential to take a new look at fertility and investigate every potential subfertility-causing factor. These recommendations are supported by current scientific research and clinical expertise. Being proactive, planning and preparing before to conception have advantages. There are unquestionable benefits to embracing holistic practises.
Exercise is known to improve health and maintain a healthy body weight. However, there is a growing body of evidence that exercise has a positive impact on fertility. Improved fitness and exercise during the preconception period was positively associated with increased ovulation frequency in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, who are at risk of impaired fertility. Cardio and weight training can be key to reducing the risk of miscarriage by keeping blood flow optimal to the reproductive organs. Even in the short-term, exercise has been shown to increase the number of sperm and improve sperm quality.
The impact of nutrition on fertility is also growing in significance. A review in 2015 found that a high intake of calories from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins was associated with decreased fertility while a high intake of protein and fibre was associated with increased fertility. There are a few areas to consider in terms of fertility and nutrition.
- Caloric intake; This can be complex with nutrition. As calories influence your metabolism and overall health. It is important to maintain a healthy body weight before trying to conceive.
- Macronutrients; Macronutrients include protein, fat, and carbohydrates. A balance of these nutrients is important for general health, including fertility.
- Micronutrients; Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Having an adequate intake of micronutrients is important for general health, including fertility.
- Carbohydrate intake; Eating fibre or whole grains and reducing the intake of refined carbohydrates can be helpful for general health, including fertility.
There are many studies and theories as to why acupuncture is helpful for fertility. But there is not a consensus on a single theory. This means that there could be many mechanisms at play. Acupuncture has been found to increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. Acupuncture also increases levels of endorphins, which are hormones that reduce stress and help with pain reduction. Acupuncture has been found to positively affect the ovaries and pituitary gland. This can help regulate hormones and boost the ovulation process.
There are a number of lab tests that can help determine if a couple has sub-fertility. This can help identify potential areas of concern and/or make a diagnosis of an existing condition. The most common tests are hormone panels (FSH, LH, progesterone, estradiol, sex hormone binding globulin, prolactin), sperm analysis, and blood tests for autoimmune and genetic disorders. Other tests can include blood tests for the blood-borne pathogen chlamydia and gonorrhea, carbon dioxide levels in the blood, and chromosomal tests.
Smoking cessation and Environmental Toxins
Smoking has been known to decrease fertility. However, the impact of smoking on both male and female fertility is not well known. Studies suggest that smoking can reduce both male and female fertility. In men, decreased fertility is due to less sperm production and quality. In women, smoking has been associated with a decrease in the frequency of ovulation. Environmental toxins are also a concern for couples trying to conceive. Studies have shown that exposure to certain chemicals can decrease male and female fertility.
Preconception planning is important for all couples who are trying to conceive. There is no one correct way to go about it. It is important to find a balance between preparing and being relaxed. The key is to explore areas where you may be sub-fertile and work towards changing them.