Your five point lifestyle checklist:
Alcohol - Smoking - Stress - Exercise - Diet
Excessive alcohol intake increases free radicals which could in turn cause free radical damage to eggs and sperm. It also affects the way we absorb essential vitamins and minerals. Ideally preconceptually it would be preferable to avoid all alcohol. However this is unrealistic for some couples. Women however should limit alcohol to 5 units a week and men no more than 7. One unit equates to half a pint of beer and a small glass of wine (125ml) equals one and a half units of alcohol. All alcohol should be ceased at pregnancy to avoid fetal damage.
Smoking decreases fertility for both men and women. Smoking affects oocyte DNA and increases their loss. As a result the eggs wont fertilise properly and often miscarriage. Smoking also damages sperm quality increasing the abnormalities and function of the sperm. Even with fertility treatments the chance of pregnancy is lower whether the male or the female smoke cigarettes. Smoking during pregnancy places your baby of increased abnormalities such as cleft palates and decreases the baby’s birthweight which has consequences related to adult life and increases the risk of stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome. It is difficult to stop smoking. Hypnotherapy or cognitive behaviour therapy are very effective ways to help stop smoking. See your local Doctor today to get help. If you stop smoking today your fertility will increase after 2 months.
Stress can interfere with hormone production from the hypothalamus which controls the pituitary gland that produces the hormones for conception for both males and females. Cortisol production increases from the adrenal glands that can also interfere with conception and implantation of the embryo. Prolactin production from the pituitary gland is also increased with stress which may affect ovulation and sperm production as it inhibits the production of FSH and LH both vital for fertility. Incresed prolactin also decreases implantationof the embryo.
With busy lifestyles people often don’t have a lot of time for exercise. Ideally exercise should be part of your daily routine. An Exercise programme should include aerobic and resistance programme ideally for at least half an hour a day. Excessive exercise may inhibit ovulation and hence finding a balance is important.
Eating healthily will increase your chances of conception. Try to stay clear of processed foods. Eat foods that are in their natural state. Try and buy free range meat and try and fruits and vegetables in a wide variety of colours that will include lots of different colours. It is important to have a balance between complex carbohydrates, fat and protein. As a general rule your diet should include 55% complex carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 15% protein. You should drink 2 litres of water a day (herbal teas are okay).
Complex carbohydrates - contain sugar molecuses that are linked together that take longer to be broken down whiles simple carbohydrates are easily broken down and release energy easily. Example of simple carbohydrates include white bread, white flour and white rice. Complex carbohydrates are fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, and plums and starchy foods such as brown rice and wholegrain bread.
Essential fats - are Omega3, omega6 and omega 9 that are unsaturated fates and are found in olive oil, oily fish, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
Essential Protein - Animal and soya products contain the essential amino acids necessary for cell growth and repair. Good sources of protein are chicken, low fat yoghurt, fish, cottage cheese, baked beans, kidney beans, tofu and avocado.