Excessive alcohol intake increases free radicals, which can cause free radical damage to eggs and sperm. It also affects the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals.
Preconception, try to avoid alcohol altogether but if this is unrealistic for you and your partner, women should try and limit themselves to 5 units a week and men no more than 7.
One unit equates to half a pint of beer. A small glass of wine (125ml) equals one and a half units of alcohol.
All alcohol should be ceased at pregnancy to avoid fetal damage.
Smoking is known to decrease fertility for both men and women.
It affects oocyte DNA and increases loss so eggs won’t fertilise properly which can often result in miscarriage. Smoking also damages sperm quality by increasing the abnormalities and function of the sperm.
If you are undergoing fertility treatment, your chances of success are lower if you or your partner smoke cigarettes.
Smoking during pregnancy can lead to big problems for your baby including increased abnormalities such as cleft palates. It will also decrease their birth weight, which can have consequences reaching right into their adult life. Smoking also increases the risk of stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome.
It can be extremely difficult to QUIT! Hypnotherapy or cognitive behaviour therapies can help and remember if you stop smoking today, your fertility will increase after just two months!!
Stress can interfere with hormone production from the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a section of the brain that controls the pituitary gland, which is responsible for producing those conception hormones in both males and females.
Increased cortisol production from the adrenal glands caused by stress can also interfere with conception and implantation of the embryo.
Stress also increases the prolactin production from the pituitary gland, which may affect ovulation and sperm production by inhibiting the production of those vital fertility hormones FSH and LH. It also decreases the chances of implantation of the embryo.
Life is busy and it’s hard to find time but try to make exercise part of your daily routine.
Good exercise programs include aerobic and resistance training for at least half an hour a day but don’t get over-excited – excessive exercise may inhibit ovulation. Finding a good balance is important.
Eating healthily will increase your chances of conception.
Try to eat foods in their natural state, buy free range meat and eat lots of fruits and veggies in a wide variety of colours.
Try to get the following balance in your diet: 55% complex carbohydrates; 30% fat; and 15% protein.
Try to avoid processed foods and make sure you drink 2 litres of water a day; (herbal teas are okay).
These contain sugar molecules that take longer to break down while simple carbohydrates are more easily broken down releasing energy easily and quickly.
Simple carbohydrates include white bread, white flour and white rice.
Great complex carbohydrates include fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, and plums and starchy foods such as brown rice and wholegrain bread.
Omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9 are unsaturated fats that are found in olive oil, oily fish, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
Animal and soya products contain essential amino acids required for healthy cell growth and repair.
Some great sources of protein include chicken, low fat yoghurt, fish, cottage cheese, baked beans, kidney beans, tofu and avocado.