When I meet with couples, I find that many are surprised just how many factors can influence both male and female fertility – too many in fact to include in just one post. (part 2 of 2)
When I meet with couples, I find that many are surprised just how many factors can influence both male and female fertility – too many in fact to include in just one post. Read on for a continuation of my last post regarding tips to optimize your fertility:
When many individuals are prescribed pharmaceutical medication, they are not educated on the potential impact that this may have on future fertility. Some classes of drugs that may affect one’s chance of conceiving include: steroids and corticosteroids, blood pressure medications, and some antidepressants. It is important to speak to your primary care provider about this.
Couples trying to conceive should avoid the following substances:
o Recreational drugs – can lead to permanent damage of the reproductive organs. Marijuana in particular can lead to over-stimulation of sperm resulting in poor sperm motility when they enter the vaginal canal.
o Alcohol – particularly moderate to heavy consumption can impact hormone levels resulting in luteal phase defects and anovulation.
o Tobacco – and the metabolites that are found in cigarettes cause oxidative damage and developmental problems in the folllicles of the ovary, while also impacting sperm parameters.
o Caffeine – and other decaffeinated products have been shown to increase miscarriage rates, decrease fertility, and lower birth weights in babies. Though the exact mechanism is unknown, it may have something to do with its effect on the metabolism of estrogens in the body (1).
MALE FERTILITY FACTORS:
Assess male fertility factors such as quantity, motility, and viability of sperm, in addition to any relevant medical history that may have directly affected the reproductive system (i.e. testicular torsion, infection, surgery).
o Avoid tight fitting underwear at all costs,as this may denature the sperm.
o Cell phone radiation can damage sperm, so avoid keeping your cell phone in your pocket at all costs. A comprehensive review of the literature has found that exposure to radiation from cell phones may reduce sperm count, motility, and viability – yikes!
o Avoid using commercial lubricants, which may alter the pH of the vaginal canal, and prevent sperm from traveling towards, and fertilizing the egg. A great sperm-friendly lubricant is: Pre-seed.
o Emphasize consumption of nutrients that encourage healthy sperm:
- Selenium – found in Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and seafood.
- Zinc – found in pumpkin seeds, spinach, cashews, and chocolate.
- Antioxidants – Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and beta-carotene found in brightly coloured orange, yellow, and red fruits and vegetables.
- Vitamin D
Acupuncture can increase pregnancy rates in women undergoing fertility treatments, and can also help to balance hormone levels.
As you can see, there are lots of things that couples can do to take a proactive approach to optimizing their fertility. If you continue to experience challenges in trying to conceive, don’t be afraid to seek the support that you need by speaking to your Naturopathic Doctor or other allied health professionals. It is important to remember that you are not alone in your journey to parenthood.