You want to offer your baby the best possible start and there are a few simple steps you can take prior to starting a family that can maximise your fertility, as well as reduce the rate of miscarriage, complications in delivery and abnormalities in offspring.
The first and easiest step is to take a folic acid supplement. You may not be aware that folic acid can reduce the chance of your baby developing a severe and life altering condition called Spina Bifida. Spina bifida is a condition where the vertebrae do not completely close during spinal cord development, potentially causing paralysis, mobility and learning difficulties, bowel and bladder complications and hydrocephalus (excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid on the brain). Folic acid is one of the constituents of Elevit. Taken one month prior to conception and during the first three months of pregnancy at 800mcg/day it reduces the risk of Spina Bifida by 92%. Taking Elevit has also resulted in a reduction in the incidence of urinary tract defects, heart defects, gastrointestinal tract defects and limb deficiencies by 46%. Elevit also reduces nausea in the first trimester of pregnancy by 50%. Some research has indicated that folic acid is also beneficial if it is also taken by the male partner prior to trying to conceive. We also encourage you to continue your folic acid throughout pregnancy and while breast-feeding.
Iodine is another supplement that has shown to reduce the incidence of an abnormality in babies. Iodine deficiency can result in a condition called Cretinism, which is characterised by irreversible brain damage and mental deficiency, deaf-mutism, motor rigidity (reduction in movement), and severe hypothyroidism (thyroid failure). Iodine is most commonly found in iodised table salt, seafood and some vegetables such as maize, bamboo shoots, sweet potatoes and the brassica group of vegetables.
Cigarette smoking is well known to impact on general health, research has strongly shown that cigarette smoking by the female or male partner while trying to fall pregnant prior to falling pregnant has a dramatic effect on fertility. Cigarette smoking while trying to fall pregnant can reduce the chance of falling pregnant by 22%. Additionally, cigarette smoking by the female OR male partner can also increase the risk of childhood cancer by 50%. We also see an increase in the rate of spontaneous abortions and a decrease in blood flow to reproductive organs.
We understand that seeking fertility treatment will be one of the most stressful experiences of your life and we are here to assist you during this time. At ISIS Fertility we have highly skilled counsellors who can help to manage stress and who can recommend appropriate treatments to assist you with quitting smoking.
Weight is something we often cringe at the thought of discussing with anyone other than our bathroom scales, but it is very important that you are aware that your weight does impact on your ability to conceive, maintain a pregnancy and have a safe delivery. Being overweight or underweight effects the reproductive system as fat tissue plays a role in maintaining and converting reproductive hormones for utilisation. Too much or not enough fat tissue can cause menstrual dysfunction, provide inadequate hormone utilisation and interrupt communication between the brain and reproductive organs. You can check if you are in a normal weight range, by looking at our Body Mass Index (BMI), a normal BMI is between 20–25 and significant changes in the reproductive system can be seen when the BMI falls outside these parameters.
Research has shown that when there is a change in an abnormal weight range by even 5%, fertility will improve. It is often difficult to make a lifestyle change when leading a busy life whilst also seeking fertility treatment, but studies have shown that those people who made the decision to make positive lifestyle changes needed fewer IVF cycles.
© ISIS Fertility 2013