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Fertility & Lifestyle

Some simple strategies in regards to lifestyle choices, which would be helpful in your pursuit of a successful pregnancy, include the following: maintain a healthy body weight, exercise regularly, manage your stress levels and get sufficient sleep. All of these factors can strongly influence the length of time required to become pregnant. Before planning to conceive, we advise our patients to take at least three months to prepare their bodies, and create a nurturing and safe place, in which to give their babies the best start in life.

Control Your Weight

Being overweight or underweight is a common and indisputable cause for irregular periods and reduced fertility. An overweight body produces abnormally high levels of androgenic hormones that inhibit ovulation. Often women with body mass index (BMI) 27 or higher have a lower pregnancy rate. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a good example of how weight can affect fertility. Being overweight carries a higher risk of miscarriage and can cause many serious pregnancy complications such as diabetes, hypertension, and a caesarean section. In addition, overweight women will most likely respond poorly to IVF. If your BMI is below 20 (under weight) the hypothalamus becomes inactive; this causes the ovaries to receive no stimulation, which can result in infrequent menstrual cycles or no period. The good news is that gaining or losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your present body weight will be the most natural solution, and can significantly restore ovulation and boost your chances of fertility.

Keep Your Exercise Moderate

Intensive exercise can influence women's ovulation and can also cause a decrease in progesterone levels, which in turn might prevent an embryo from implanting. Thirty minutes of daily moderate exercise is recommended due to the fact it can relieve stress, encourage circulation, fight inflammation, and maximize fertility. Examples of such beneficial exercise are: stretch routines, yoga and Tai Chi. Some of the exercises can be practiced throughout the menstrual cycle; others are best avoided after ovulation or embryo transfer while on IVF cycle (a tiny embryo needs calm and silence to implant and thrive). Fortunately, in nearly all cases, any changes related to exercise are completely reversible, and there is no permanent effect on fertility.

Get adequate and Good Quality Sleep

When the body and mind are at complete rest, you are restoring and recuperating crucial reserves of essential energy. Getting a good night's sleep can restore vitality and cognitive brain functions, help maintain quality of life and optimal health, as well as fertility. During sleep, the body secretes a number of hormones that are controlled by the endocrine system. The endocrine system plays a critical role in a woman's cycle and in regulating ovulation. When your endocrine system malfunctions, your ability to conceive can decrease drastically. Research has shown that working a night shift can cause irregular menstruation in some women. Irregular menstruation is often considered a risk factor for fertility problems. Recent studies pointed out that lack of sleep can significantly elevate stress hormones, cortisol and adrenocorticotropic, both of which can suppress a healthy fertility cycle. My recommendation is that while you are trying to conceive, you should have a range of 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. You should also try to avoid working a night shift if possible. If you are having problems sleeping, acupuncture is a natural and effective solution to calm your body by stimulating the central nervous system and increasing the production of endorphins (See acupuncture for insomnia).

Manage your Stress Level

Both emotional and physical stress can have a profound affect on women's fertility and pregnancy outcome. Infertility can also have an adverse effect on both our mental and physical well-being and leave us feeling even more helpless. Studies discovered that there is more anxiety and depression in infertile women than in those who are fertile. There is no separation between mind, body and spirit. Whatever treats the body helps the mind, and whatever heals the spirit will also help restore balance to the physical being. Acupuncture, a holistic method, integrates the body and mind, and has been extremely effective in helping the body deal with stress as well as helping you get through each day with greater calm and balance. (See Relaxed Conception). Meditation and yoga are also powerful methods for improving your quality of life because they bring you to a deep peacefulness, which can help lower your levels of tension and anxiety over infertility.

The new life you are trying to create needs your support- physically, mentally and emotionally. You must be sure that your overall health is made a priority. By exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a positive attitude you are doing everything you can to allow conception to happen naturally.