How Men and Women Can Improve Their Fertility Through Natural Remedies
According to the statistics provided by Ministry of Women, Community and Family developments, one in ten couples now find it difficult to conceive and a quarter of all pregnancies can end in a miscarriage.
Many women believe that fate plays a part in fertility. In Malaysia, 71% of women believe that infertility is “God’s will”, and 42% attribute it to “bad luck”. In fact , according to the statistics provided by Ministry of Women, Community and Family developments, one in ten couples now find it difficult to conceive and a quarter of all pregnancies can end in a miscarriage.
Scientific research has shown that certain vitamins and minerals can increase your chances of getting and staying pregnant. In order to maximise your chances of conceiving it is very important that you and your partner are in optimum health. By eliminating nutritional deficiencies and improving sperm production and mobility you can dramatically increase your chances of getting pregnant. It is important to obtain the right nutrients and in the right quantities to enhance your success.
Fertility is multi-factorial that can be at the root of your fertility problems. A study conducted by the University of Surrey showed that couples with a previous history of infertility who made changes in their lifestyle, diet and took nutritional supplements had an 80 percent success rate. Given that the success rate for IVF is around 25 per cent, it’s worth considering these options.
Remember that it takes at least three months for immature eggs (oocytes) to mature enough to be released during ovulation. It also takes at least three months for sperm cells to develop, ready to be ejaculated. This means that when you are trying to improve your fertility, you need to have a three-month period before conceiving. This is called ‘pre-conception care’ and it’s as important to take as much care during this period as it is during a pregnancy itself.
The right diet and lifestyles are equally essential
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 diet can help to correct hormone imbalances that may affect your ability to conceive. Most doctors say when it comes to your daily diet your best bet is to use common sense and get plenty of fruits and vegetables. It can’t hurt and it should help your body function at its best, something you’ll want during the conception process and eventually need to keep up with your baby.
There are also certain foods and drinks that are known to lower fertility. The first thing we need to refrain are the followings:
If you fancy coffee and cannot start your day without it, please consider this again. There is plenty of evidence to show that caffeine, particularly in the form of coffee, decreases fertility. Drinking as little as one cup of coffee a day can halve your chances of conceiving and just two cups a day increases the risk of a miscarriage. One study showed that problems with sperm: sperm count, motility and abnormalities, increase with the number of cups of coffee consumed each day. Once again, it’s important to eliminate all caffeine-containing food and drinks for at least three months before trying to conceive. That includes colas, chocolate, black teas and coffee, among other things.
Alcohol will affect both you and your partner. It can reduce your fertility by half – and the more you drink, the harder you are to conceive. One study showed that women who drank less than 5 units of alcohol a week (equal to 2 standard 175ml glasses of wine) were twice as likely to get pregnant within six-months compared with those who drank more.
Research has also shown that drinking alcohol causes a decrease in sperm count, an increase in abnormal sperm and a lower proportion of motile sperm. Alcohol also reduce the absorption of zinc in the body which is one of the most important minerals for male fertility. Give yourself a three month “alcohol free” period in order to increase the chance of conceiving.
Obesity creates hormonal imbalances, preventing women from ovulating normally and affecting men’s sperm production. Research just published in the European journal Human Reproduction also has shown that when both partners in a couple are overweight or obese, they’re more likely to have to wait longer before successfully conceiving a child.
Smoking has definitely been linked with infertility in women. Smoking can increase the risk of a miscarriage and cause a woman’s eggs to deteriorate more rapidly, damage that can’t be reversed. It can even bring on an early menopause which can age you faster. Smoking can decrease sperm count in men, making the sperm more sluggish, and it can increase the number of abnormal sperm. With men, the effects on fertility are increased with the number of cigarettes.
Xenoestrogens are environmental oestrogens, coming from pesticides and the plastic components. When you are trying to conceive, one of the most important things you need to do is to balance your hormones. It is extremely important to avoid anything that might cause an imbalance, and one of the main culprits is the xenoestrogens. One of the best ways to eliminate an excess intake of xenoestrogens is to eat as much organic produce as possible for the pre-conceptual period. Avoid using plastic containers and bottles.
There is now a great deal of scientific knowledge on both male and female fertility by using nutritional supplements. These supplements can be very effective in re-balancing your hormones, as well as improving you and your partner’s overall health, which are so vital for successful conception.
Scientific research has shown that certain vitamins and minerals can increase your chances of getting and staying pregnant. By eliminating nutritional deficiencies and improving sperm production and mobility you can dramatically increase your chances of getting pregnant. Supplements are necessary because even the best diet in the world may not contain all the nutrients you need to give you the best chance of conceiving. In my practice, the followings are my favourite and it has definitely increase the chances of conceiving.
First and foremost, it is important to get folic acid to prevent spina bifida in your baby, and it is essential that you get plenty both before and during pregnancy. Folic acid is just part of the very important B-complex family of vitamins that are necessary to produce the genetic materials DNA and RNA, not only of the egg but also the sperm. Together with vitamin B12, folic acid works to ensure that your baby’s genetic codes are intact. Remember: it’s not enough to take folic acid alone when you are trying to become pregnant. All of the B vitamins are essential during the pre-conceptual period. Research has shown that giving B6 to women who have trouble conceiving increases fertility and vitamin B12 has been found to improve low sperm counts.
Zinc is the most widely studied nutrient in terms of fertility for both men and women. It is an essential component of genetic material and a zinc deficiency can cause chromosome changes in either you or our partner, leading to reduced fertility and an increased risk of miscarriage. Zinc is necessary for your body to ‘attract and hold’ (utilise efficiently) the reproductive hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.
And it’s equally important for your partner: zinc is found in high concentrations in the sperm. Zinc is needed to make the outer layer and tail of the sperm and is, therefore, essential for the health of your partner’s sperm and, subsequently, your baby. Interestingly, several studies have also shown that reducing zinc in a man’s diet will also reduce his sperm count.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
These essential fatty acids have a profound effect on every system of the body, including the reproductive system and they are crucial for healthy hormone functioning. Omega 3 fatty acids also control inflammation which may interfere with getting and staying pregnant. For men essential fatty acid supplementation is crucial because the semen is rich in prostaglandins which are produced from these fats. Men with poor sperm quality, abnormal sperm, poor motility or low count, have inadequate levels of these beneficial prostaglandins.
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant and has been shown to increase fertility when given to both men and women. Men going for IVF treatment with their partners have been given vitamin E, and fertilisation rates have, as a result, increased from 19 to 29 percent. It has been suggested that the antioxidant activity of vitamin E might make the sperm more fertile.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, and studies show that vitamin C enhances sperm quality, protecting sperm and the DNA within it from damage. Some research has indicated that certain types of DNA damage in the sperm can make it difficult to conceive in the first place, or it can cause an increased risk of miscarriage if conception does take place. If DNA is damaged, there may be a chromosomal problem in the baby, should the pregnancy proceed. Whether or not DNA damage does have these effects has not been conclusively proven, but it’s worth taking vitamin C and the other antioxidants as a precautionary measure.
Vitamin C also appears to keep the sperm from clumping together, making them more motile.
One study has shown that women taking the drug clomiphene to stimulate ovulation will have a better chance of ovulating if vitamin C is taken alongside the drug. Clomiphene does not always work in every woman, but the chances are often increased when vitamin C is supplemented.
This is an amino acid found in many foods and the head of the sperm contains an exceptional amount of this nutrient, which is essential for sperm production. Supplementing with L-arginine can help to increase both the sperm count and quality.
Note: People who have herpes attacks (either cold sores or genital herpes) should not supplement with L-arginine because it stimulates the virus.
This amino acid is essential for normal functioning of sperm cells. According to research, it appears that the higher the levels of L-Carnitine in the sperm cells, the better the sperm count and motility.
“If you’re running a marathon, you’ve got to train for it,” “and if you want to have a baby, you’ve got to train for that too. By adopting a healthier diet and lifestyle, you will be more likely to prevent infertility.
By: Ms Esther Peh - SOL Senior Naturopath