This week is National Fertility Awareness Week, a week which aims to raise awareness and change perceptions of fertility issues, as well as raising funds to help provide much-needed support for the 1 in 6 couples, and others, in the UK who struggle with infertility.
This year celebrates the 40th anniversary of IVF, a technique which has seen more than five million babies born worldwide since its introduction. Typically performed in women aged between 30-39, there are many myths surrounding various techniques that will help to aid your conception.
If you're trying to conceive through IVF, you'll most likely hear a range of facts and myths about what you can do to boost your chances. It's important that you know what will and won't help you so that you can increase your chances, as well as enjoy the time as much as possible.
The most common question I get asked is around diet. It goes without saying that having a healthy body weight and ensuring that food intake is balanced with your physical activity level is an important factor for fertility. Being both underweight and overweight can affect a woman's chance of conceiving and delivering a healthy, normal weight baby.
Studies have found that women with high "fertility diet" scores emphasised by a higher monounsaturated to trans-fat ratio, vegetable over animal protein, high-fat over low-fat dairy, a decreased glycemic load, and an increased intake of iron and multivitamins had lower rates of infertility due to ovulation disorders.
Similarly, exercise plays an important role in fertility, specifically, over-exercise and studies show that women who reported regular exercise had a similar live birth rate compared to women who did not exercise. However, women who exercised four or more hours per week for 1-9 years were 40% less likely to have a live birth, three times more likely to experience cycle cancellation, twice as likely to have an implantation failure or pregnancy loss compared to women who did not report exercise. However, compared to women who did not exercise, women who exercised regularly for 1-5 years were at greater risk for failure of cycle stimulation, implantation failure, and failure to develop a live birth after a chemical pregnancy.
This can be easily prevented though with the incorporation of active recovery into training and the gradual varying of intensity and volume of training.
Another area which receives a lot of attention relating to fertility issues is acupuncture. Some studies suggest that acupuncture may have a beneficial effect in female infertility as an adjuvant therapy, but unfortunately evidence is not conclusive and more studies are needed to clarify the clinical efficacy of acupuncture and its biological mechanism in female infertility. It's important to know that there are many factors affecting your fertility and chances of successful IVF. Your doctor should discuss your individual needs with you and advise on what steps you can personally take to improve your chances.
To better understand your chances of conceiving, learn more about your personal diagnosis and receive general guidance on the various factors affecting fertility, you can visit https://fertilitypedia.org/.