How specialty pharmacies can improve the treatment success of women receiving in-vitro fertilization.
According to the CDC National Survey of Family Growth, 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy.
In fact, the National Women’s Health Resource Center says that a couple between the of ages 29 and 33 with a normal functioning reproductive system has only an approximately 25% chance of conceiving in any given month. It is no wonder that women are looking for new ways to increase their fertility without having to seek medical intervention.
Here are 10 things women can do to naturally increase their fertility and chances of success in conceiving.
1. Maintain a healthy weight for a baby-friendly body
Maintaining a healthy body weight is not only essential to our overall health, but also a prerequisite for pregnancy. Although it may be trendy to be fashionably thin, it is not good for fertility. Super skinny women have very little body fat, so all of the body’s energy is used to keep only the necessities running.
In turn, the reproductive system is greatly slowed and, in some cases, women may become infertile. On the other hand, women who are extremely overweight often have trouble conceiving due to high insulin levels. Higher insulin levels create more testosterone in the blood and ovaries.
Also, the additional hormones secreted by excess fat can block a fertilized egg from successfully implanting in the uterine wall.
2. Stress less to keep hormones in-check
It comes as no surprise that stress levels can affect fertility. Unfortunately, as our lives become increasingly complicated, our levels of stress also increase. Learning to manage this stress is crucial to leading a healthy lifestyle and increasing fertility.
Hormonal fluctuations, which are very common with increased stress, can cause a decrease in blood flow to the uterus, and make it more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant. Studies have proven time and again that couples who report feeling happy and relaxed have much greater success at conceiving than those who are under stress.
Of course, just the process of trying to get pregnant can stress women out. Finding ways to control stress and reduce its impact through yoga or other breathing techniques are great ways to do this.
3. Eat a nutritious diet to prepare for pregnancy
We are what we eat, and so is your baby. To maximize fertility, women should follow a diet of fruit and vegetables, in a variety of colors, designed to prevent high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Women should also seek out protein in vegetarian sources, such as avocados, beans, and nuts, while minimizing the intake of meat and chicken pumped full of antibiotics and hormones.
4. Exercise enough to keep weight and stress in-check
Regular exercise is very important for keeping weight in a healthy range, and can help reduce stress levels. It boosts fertility by increasing circulation, which helps to spur egg production. The type and intensity of this exercise is equally important.
Vigorous exercise can actually decrease fertility by negatively impacting hormone levels. Plus, too much intense exercise causes the body to use up excess fat, which can inhibit ovulation. The best exercises for pregnant women are low impact, such as walking, cycling, swimming, or yoga. Getting a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week is ideal.
5. Quit smoking
It is estimated that a smoker’s “fertility age” is 10 years older than that of a non-smoker, so if a woman is 35-years-old and smokes, her fertility will be closer to that of a 45-year-old. That is enough reason to stop smoking. Smoking is harmful to our bodies, and can cause physical damage to the most important parts of a woman’s reproductive system, including her eggs.
It can also make the ovaries age prematurely, a common cause of infertility. In addition, smoking can cause blockages in the fallopian tubes, leading to a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy. What’s more, the risk of miscarriage is higher in smokers due to weaker eggs, and an unhealthy uterine lining.
Some good news, however, is that the damage done to a woman’s fertility by smoking is not permanent. Most women resume normal fertility within a year of quitting.
6. Reduce caffeine consumption for better eggs
Addicted to the daily grande caramel machiatto? A woman trying to conceive may want to switch to decaf. Studies show that even moderate caffeine consumption in animals effects the ability of eggs to mature. Human studies conclude that a woman who drinks just a single cup of coffee per day is half as likely to get pregnant.
In addition, studies have discovered higher miscarriage rates among coffee-drinking women, because their bodies metabolize caffeine more slowly, and are more sensitive to its effects. This can be worrisome since anything a pregnant woman consumes can pass through to her baby via the placenta.
Caffeine, which causes excitability and an increased heart rate, can spark unpredictable sleep patterns in your unborn fetus. No amount of caffeine has been deemed safe at this point, so it is best to stop the intake of caffeine altogether when trying to get pregnant, and during the pregnancy. This includes coffee, tea, and even chocolate.
When stopping, women should be careful to wean off slowly to avoid headaches, nausea, etc.
7. Avoid alcohol for greater fertility
If a woman trying to conceive loves her evening glass of wine, this is definitely some unwelcome news. Studies have repeatedly reported a relationship between drinking alcohol and reduced fertility. How alcohol reduces fertility is not fully understood, but drinking even small amounts of alcohol can have a negative effect, so it is best to avoid it all together during this time.
Also, women who are undergoing IVF have a reduced likelihood of success if they drink.
8. Try acupuncture
This ancient therapy has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, and is currently widely and successfully used to increase fertility. During treatment, tiny needles are inserted into the skin at key points on the body to help improve the movement of energy through the body, called “Qi.”
Because stress inhibits this flow of energy, acupuncture restores it, thereby increasing fertility. It boosts the production of endorphins, which are chemicals produced in the brain that create a sense of balance, calm, and overall well-being. Plus, it is thought to increase the production of eggs and ovulation-friendly hormones, as well as increase circulation to the ovaries, giving them more hormonal stimulation.
Doctors have also found acupuncture useful for preventing miscarriages, perhaps by improving the quality of the uterine lining, making it a better home for a fertilized egg. Women trying to conceive should check their insurance to make sure it covers acupuncture for fertility. Also, look for a practitioner who specializes in, and has experience using acupuncture for fertility.
9. Avoid pesticides for maximum fertility
You have probably heard by now all the terrible things that consuming pesticides and herbicides can do to the human body. These chemicals, often used to keep weeds and insects at bay, are destructive to many of the body’s primary systems, and they are also bad for reproduction.
Men who consume or are exposed to pesticides, often have a reduced sperm count, and women may find that their ovulation and menstrual cycles are disrupted. It is best for everyone to avoid pesticides, but especially important if a woman is hoping to conceive. They can avoid pesticides by choosing organic produce at the market, or carefully rinsing non-organic fruit and veggies prior to eating.
10.It is his responsibility too
No guys, you are not off the hook here. The same things that can compromise a woman’s fertility can harm a man’s as well. Bad eating habits, alcohol consumption, and smoking are some of the worst culprits, causing reduced sperm count and slow swimmers.
Chromosomal damage to sperm can occur in cases of heavy drinking and smoking. Men need to carefully consider their own habits when looking to reproduce. It takes 3 months for men to create new sperm, so some pre-planning is required. Men should eat a healthy diet, lay off of cigarettes and alcohol, avoid exposure to radiation (cell phones and laptops), and sport loose briefs.
If all this seems overwhelming, keep in mind that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Most parents agree that having a child is one of life’s greatest joys and accomplishments. It is no wonder that a little bit of sacrifice may be required to reap this ultimate reward.
About the Author
Armando Bardisa, PharmD, CPh, Founder & CEO, SMP Pharmacy Solutions
Dr. Armando Bardisa founded South Miami Pharmacy in 2003 in an effort to improve the quality of life for patients through personalized pharmacy service. A pharmacist by trade and an entrepreneur at heart, Armando has led the company to many notable achievements, including the prestigious honor of being named one of the 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies by Inc. Magazine for seven consecutive years. In addition, SMP was recognized by JD Power & Associates as having the “Highest in Customer Satisfaction” rating and was also named a Top 500 Hispanic-Owned Business by Hispanic Business Magazine. Drug Topics Magazine named SMP an “Independent Pharmacy Superstar,” and the company was also recognized by Drug Channels as one of the top ten fastest-growing, private specialty pharmacies. In 2015, South Miami Pharmacy changed its name to SMP Pharmacy Solutions to redefine the company’s position as one of the top independent pharmacies in the country and a trusted healthcare partner to both patients and physicians alike.