Pre-conception Healthcare

Preparing for Pregnancy…

Lifestyle and Pre-conception Health

One of the first Question you may ask yourself when deciding to start a family is what lifestyle modifications you should make to give yourself the best chance of conceiving.

There are many factors that contribute to natural conception. Lifestyle is important although there are biological factors beyond your control such as age that may impact your fertility as well as the amount of time it takes to conceive.

By leading a healthy lifestyle, understanding your menstrual cycle, and seeing your doctor for a fertility assessment you will increase your chance of pregnancy.

Fertilely Assessment

Once you've made the decision to start a family visit your GP for a pre-pregnancy check-up. This will include blood tests and ultra-sound examination.

If you are taking any medications or are aware of any history of genetic disorders in your family discuss these with your doctor.

Understanding your menstrual cycle

The reproductive cycle of a woman generally runs through three phases which are controlled by hormonal feedback mechanisms in the hypothalamus and pituitarygland of the brain. Your cycle could become irregular or cease if the hormonal balance or production is disturbed for any reason.

The key to conceiving is knowing your fertile time.The simplest Way to workout when you ovulate is to subtract l4 days from the number of days in your cycle. For example, if there are 28 days from the start at your period to the start of the next period, you can expect too vulate on day l4. You should aim to have intercourse about 2 days before ovulation and the day of ovulation. This ensures that sperm are present in the fallopian tubes at the time the egg is released from the ovary.

Lifestyle

Diet

Maintain a balanced diet. Foods rich in calcium, iron and folate, such as dairy foods, fruit and vegetables, cereals, wholegrain, beans and lentils are vital. Ageneral multi vitamin may be recommended and folic acid is essential for three months before you fall pregnant and during pregnancy to lower the risk of neural tube defects.

Weight

A normal body mass index(BMI) of between 20 and 25 is ideal for o woman trying to conceive. Being decided lyover weight or under weight makes regular ovulation less likely. It you have a high BMI,both females and malescan improve their fertility dramatically with just a 5% reduction in weight.

Exercise

Moderate exercise such as walking, swimming or cycling all contribute to your general well being, and lowers the risk of problems during pregnancy and birth. Excessive exercise may decrease your fertility, so regular moderate exercise for an average of 30 minutes three times a week is best.

Smoking

Smoking has been shown to disrupt regular ovulation in women and increase the riskof miscarriage and premature birth. Some studies suggest that a child born to a male smoker may be at an increased risk of developing cancer in childhood. There is no level of smoking that is risk free so if you smoke, quit smoking!

Alcohol

Limit alcohol in take. Alcohol can lead to a lower birt hweight in babies and has a negative effect on the baby'sbrain development. Heavyalcohol intake in men is knownto affect sperm production, whilst studies have indicated that heavy intake in women during pregnancy can havea permanent effect on fetal development. There is currently no agreed safe level of alcohol in take during pregnancy.

Caffeine

Minimize your caffeine (suchas coffee, chocolate, colas). High caffeine in take has been linked to a slightly increased riskof miscarriage and low birth weight. Prior to conception it is recommended that both men and women should aim for less than 20 0mg of caffeine a clay.

Recreational drugs

These drugs can effect sperm quality, cause a wide variety of problems during pregnancy and effect newborn babies. Recreational drugs of any kind should be avoided.

Stress

Whilst it's easier said than done, reducing the stress inyour life can help. While normal to low levels of stress possibly have little impact on your fertility, high levels of stress for long periods of time this canbe unhealthy, and it may bebest to seek advice from your medical practitioner.

Tips to reduce stress:

Meditate; eat well; maintain regular exercise.

Advanced Fertility Assessment

Advanced forms of fertility assessments include specialist blood tests to assess eggreserve, pelvic ultrasound for tubal potency, and ifrequired fertility surgery. If you have been trying toconceive for 6 months your fertility specialist may recommend a semen analysis for your partner to test for anys perm abnormalities.

Impact of Age

Female age is a significant factor affecting a couple's chance of conceiving. At 36, your chance of conceiving naturally is halved compared toyour chance at 20 years of age.

The number of healthy(chromosomally normal) eggs you produce rapidly declinesas you get older, especially from your mid 30s onwards. With age, chromosomal errors occur more frequently in your eggs, resulting in more abnormal embryos that maynot implant, or that result inearly pregnancy loss.

Further testing such as an AMH(anti-mullerian hormone) testcan help predict the chanceof pregnancy. Sometimes AMH tests canbe requested inconjunction with an ultrasound.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Previous surgical or medical conditions (e.g. endometriosis or PCOS) may also affect fertility. More thorough forms of fertility assessment by a fertility specialist may be recommended for some patients.

What if you do not conceive?

If you are concerned about your fertility, or have been trying to conceive for six months or more without success, you should seek medical advice from fertility specialist.

By seeking advice early, you and your partner will be able to make the best decision about your future fertility.

More information

Specialist at Panacea Point can provide you with general information in person. Talk to our experts making on appointment by calling Panacea Point.

 

 

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