Fertility (Women) - To Enhance
When you consider that, at a dinner party of six typical couples, at least one of those couples will be experiencing reproductive problems, it becomes clear that fertility is a major concern of our times. Although the reasons for infertility are varied, it’s estimated that men and women each contribute to 40% of fertility issues in a relationship, while the remaining 20% of cases offer no insights whatsoever; begging the question of what the cause could be.
Lifestyle factors have recently become an important clue because there’s evidence that they have a profound impact not only on general health, but also on an individual’s ability to reproduce. First and foremost, there’s age, then weight, smoking, diet, exercise, psychological stress, excessive caffeine and alcohol intake, and exposure to environmental pollutants. To this list, you could also add a lack of vitamin intake, substance abuse and certain infections.
The effects of lifestyle factors on fertility can be separated into two groups – what’s conclusively known to affect fertility and what is suspected to have an effect.
Age simply cannot be overlooked. A woman who reaches her 35th birthday becomes less and less fertile as every year passes – the quantity and quality of her eggs decrease and the risk of genetic abnormalities and miscarriage increase. The time it takes to conceive is also affected by a woman’s age. A recent study of 1,000 pregnant women found that the time it took them to conceive varied dramatically according to their age, with 71% of the women younger than 30 conceiving within three months and only 41% of their counterparts, aged 36 and over, conceiving within the same timeframe. The chances of a woman in her 20s falling pregnant in any given menstrual cycle is 46%, this drops to 34% if she’s between 30-36, down to 13% if she’s 37-39, and sits at a mere 4% if she’s over 40.
Even though it’s not always widely recognised, evidence shows that smoking negatively impacts female and male fertility. Women smokers can enter menopause up to four years earlier than non-smokers. Smoking is also linked to a thicker egg lining, which makes it more difficult for sperm to penetrate the egg and conception to occur. In men, smoking has an impact on sperm production, making it deformed, slower than average or completely directionless, and at higher risk of DNA damage.
Obesity impacts on fertility because it contributes to hormonal imbalances and ovulatory dysfunction. It also decreases the chance of a woman falling pregnant while undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART). An Australian study of 3,586 women undergoing ART found that obese women were half as likely to fall pregnant than those with normal weight. Many intervention studies have demonstrated the benefits of weight reduction. Shedding as little as 10% of body weight can result in a woman’s ovulation cycle resuming.
Little has been studied regarding diet leading up to pregnancy, but it’s vitally important during pregnancy, especially during the early stages of embryo and fetal development.
Like diet, exercise prevents many health problems from developing and is a positive lifestyle choice. In terms of reproduction, the link between exercise and reducing ovulatory-related fertility problems is clear. For every hour of vigorous exercise per week, a woman’s risk of ovulatory dysfunction decreases by 5%. This means that exercising for a healthy and balanced life is also a good fertility choice.
Reducing stress has been linked to an increase in pregnancy rates during one study where 184 women were followed while attempting to conceive. Those who received psychological support had a 55% pregnancy rate compared with a 20% pregnancy rate in those who didn’t. In another study, 430 couples attempting to conceive were given a stress questionnaire on day 21 of their cycle. Those who reported being most stressed were not only more likely to have longer monthly cycles, but also had a conception rate of 13% per cycle versus the 17% of their less-stressed counterparts.
A large part of modern day living, caffeine consumption has been linked to fertility. The more caffeine consumed, the lower the chance of falling pregnancy – to the point that women who drink less than one cup of coffee per day are given twice as much chance of falling pregnant as moderate coffee drinkers.
Fertility is thought to be negatively affected by alcohol consumption, although the actual levels of consumption aren’t perfectly clear. Alcohol could result in an increase in estrogen, which then reduces follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) secretion, which in turn suppresses ovulation. Even moderate alcohol intake, which can be up to eight drinks per week, is associated with infertility and increased miscarriage.
If environmental and lifestyle factors are key to human disease, then it isn’t difficult to expect a link with reproductive health. Coming into contact with pesticides through food and solvents found in household and personal products, is believed to contribute to below normal sperm counts.
PLEASE NOTE: Products are ranked in decreasing order of potency. Products listed nearer the top of any particular health need are the most effective and have the most scientific research to support their use in respect of such health need. Multiple products, one from each bullet (•) can be combined with products from other bullets for added effectiveness, if needed, since products from different bulleted lines have different mechanisms of action. However, where more than one product is listed within a particular bullet (•), then only one of these products should be used, since all products listed within the same bullet share an identical or similar pharmacology (mechanism of action) for that condition. This is because whenever a particular condition is treated via multiple different mechanisms of action, the result is generally improved effectiveness. However, when products are combined that work via exactly the same mechanism of action, then no extra benefit is obtained.