Expert 3 Nutrition Dr Marilyn Glenville – Why Nutrition and Lifestyle Are Important For Fertility For Both Men and Women

Why Nutrition and Lifestyle Are Important For Fertility For Both Men and Women

Research has shown that making changes in your diet, lifestyle and reducing exposure to toxins can boost fertility for both you and your partner, and also reduce the risk of miscarriage.

Three months is the optimum period of time for these changes to take effect because it takes approximately three months for the follicles on the ovaries to develop before one is mature enough to release an egg at ovulation. Although as a woman you cannot change the number of eggs you have (ovarian reserve), you can certainly change their quality and this is the important point. By improving the quality of your eggs, you are increasing your chances of conceiving naturally and also preventing a miscarriage. If you are going for an assisted conception technique, like IUI, IVF or ICSI, you will also want your eggs to be as healthy as possible so as to give the technique the best chance of success.

Many women I see in the clinic are told that they have ‘old’ eggs and that there is nothing wrong with the IVF technology; the problem is with them. That is devastating terminology and it is true that the eggs in a woman of 35 are older than when she was 20, but as long as she is ovulating it is possible to change the quality of those eggs, either to give her the chance of conceiving naturally or for achieving success on an IVF cycle with her own eggs.

With men, it also takes at least three months for a new batch of sperm cells to mature, ready to be ejaculated. Men produce sperm
all their lives so it is always possible to not only improve the quality but also the quantity of sperm by making certain lifestyle and nutritional changes.

Although it goes without saying that a healthy diet is crucial to a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby, many people are unaware of the fact that what you eat may affect your ability to conceive. Also you want to avoid the three main fertility busters: caffeine, alcohol and smoking, as they have all been linked to an increased risk of infertility in men and women.

As well as looking at what you eat and drink there is now a great deal of scientific knowledge about the use of nutritional supplements and their beneficial effects on both male and female fertility. The most important nutrients for fertility are zinc, folic acid, selenium, vitamin
E, vitamin D, vitamin C, Omega 3 fatty acids for you and your partner plus two amino acids, arginine and carnitine specifically for boosting male fertility. In my clinics we test for nutritional deficiencies and supplement to correct those where necessary.

The aim is also to make sure you are a healthy weight. Women are most fertile when they are neither too thin nor too heavy. You need at least 18% body fat to ovulate and the best chance of conceiving is when 20-25% of the body mass is fat tissue. On the other hand, the menstrual cycle can be disrupted by too much fat, which affects oestrogen levels. Being 25% over your ideal weight can stop ovulation. It’s important for the man to keep his eye on his weight too as there is an increased risk of infertility or poor sperm quality and quantity in men who are overweight or obese.

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