Years of research shows that various things can be done to improve the chances of a successful outcome to treatment. Below is a list with a brief explanation:
Pregnancy is less likely if a woman's body mass index (BMI) is below 20 or greater than 30.
Women with a body mass index greater than 30 may need advice on diet and exercise.
Being overweight is also associated with pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure and preclampsia. Additionally, a woman with a high BMI has an increased anaesthetic risk should she need surgery.
Women with a body mass index below 20 would be advised to gain weight and reduce exercise if they are exercising excessively. Being considerably underweight is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and intrauterine growth retardation.
Note: Always seek guidance from a dietician or GP before making any major life style changes.
Smoking is generally bad for the health and everyone should be advised to stop smoking!
The various chemicals in tobacco can adversely affect fertility and impact on treatment.
Women who smoke are more likely:
To take longer to conceive
Have an increased risk of miscarriage
Deliver babies with low birth weight
May bleed during pregnancy
Men who smoke are more likely to have:
Decreased sperm density and count
Less motile sperm
An increase in abnormal sperm
3. Recreational Drugs
As with smoking, recreational drugs are harmful to health and should not be used.
Some drugs produce toxins which even if taken in moderate amounts can adversely affect fertility. For example, in women, the chemicals in Cannabis can effect the development of an egg and disrupt ovulation, whilst in men cause a low sperm count, poor sperm motility and an increase in the number of abnormal sperm.
It is important for the couple trying to conceive to reduce alcohol intake. A very occasional glass of wine or beer is unlikely to have a damaging effect. We recommend limiting alcohol to less than five units a week.
5. Folic Acid
Women who are trying to conceive should take 400mcg of Folic acid everyday. This is also recommended by the Department of Health.
The daily intake of 400mcg should reduce the risk of neural tube defects in the developing embryo.
Folate rich foods are also recommended. These include:
Dark green leafy vegetables
6. Diet and Exercise
As well as having overall health benefits, a balanced diet improves the chances of a successful outcome. Increasing fresh fruit and vegetables, drinking two litres of water everyday, reducing processed and sugary foods and alcohol consumption all improve the chances of success.
Whilst regular exercise increases overall fitness and strength, it also helps oxygenate the body and increases blood flow to supply organs with essential oxygen.