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Research has shown that making changes in your diet, lifestyle and reducing exposure to toxins can boost fertility for both you and your partner and also reduce the risk of miscarriage. 

Three months is the optimum period of time for these changes to take effect because it takes approximately three months for the follicles on the ovaries to develop before one is mature enough to release an egg at ovulation. Although as a woman you cannot change the number of eggs you have (ovarian reserve), you can certainly change their quality and this is the important point. By improving the quality of your eggs, you are increasing your chances of conceiving naturally and also preventing a miscarriage. If you are going for an assisted conception technique, like IUI, IVF or ICSI, you will also want your eggs to be as healthy as possible so as to give the technique the best chance of success.

Many women I see in the clinic are told that they have ‘old’ eggs and that there is nothing wrong with the IVF technology, the problem is with them.  That is devastating terminology and it is true that the eggs in a woman of 35 are older than when she was 20 but as long as she is ovulating it is possible to change the quality of those eggs to either give her the chance of conceiving naturally or achieving success on an IVF cycle with her own eggs. 

With men, it also takes at least three months for a new batch of sperm cells to mature, ready to be ejaculated. Men produce sperm all their lives so it is always possible to not only improve the quality but also the quantity of sperm by making certain lifestyle and nutritional changes. 

Although it goes without saying that a healthy diet is crucial to a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby, many people are unaware of the fact that what you eat may affect your ability to conceive.   Also you want to avoid the three main fertility busters; caffeine, alcohol and smoking as they have all been linked to an increased risk of infertility in men and women.

Having four cups of coffee or any caffeinated drink a day makes it 26% less likely that a woman will conceive and drinking only 2 cups of coffee a day is associated with a 25% increased risk of miscarriage. And problems with sperm health are connected with increased coffee intake.

Alcohol will also make it more difficult to get pregnant with only just three alcoholic drinks or more a week. The same is true for male fertility and alcohol will also block the body’s ability to absorb fertility boosting nutrients like zinc.

A woman is twice as likely to get pregnant if she doesn’t smoke compared to a woman who does. And smoking is linked to 5,000 miscarriages per year.

Chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage DNA in sperm which can make it harder to conceive because fertilisation can’t take place or if it is does, it can increase the risk of a miscarriage as nature will always work on survival of the fittest.   

Stress for both the man and woman can affect fertility and this needs to be addressed.

If a couple has a combination of four negative lifestyle factors (including tea/coffee, smoking and alcohol) it can take them seven times longer to get pregnant.

As well as looking at what you eat and drink there is now a great deal of scientific knowledge about the use of nutritional supplements and their beneficial effects on both male and female fertility.   The most important nutrients for fertility are zinc, folic acid, selenium, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids for you and your partner plus two amino acids, arginine and carnitine specifically for boosting male fertility.  In my clinics we test for nutritional deficiencies and supplement to correct those deficiencies where necessary.  I also use NHP’s Fertility Support for Women and Fertility Support for Men available from good health food shops.

The aim is also to make sure you are a healthy weight.  Women are most fertile when they are neither too thin nor too heavy. You need at least 18% body fat to ovulate and the best chance of conceiving is when 20-25% of the body mass is fat tissue. On the other hand, the menstrual cycle can be disrupted by too much fat, which affects oestrogen levels. Being 25% over your ideal weight can stop ovulation. It’s important for the man to keep his eye on his weight too as there is an increased risk of infertility or poor sperm quality and quantity in men who are overweight or obese.

Don’t miss this opportunity to come and see Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD, the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health. You will find out how to use food, vitamins and minerals to increase your energy, eliminate mood swings, improve your memory, reduce stress and lose weight without dieting.

Dr Marilyn Glenville will be visiting Ireland from October 24th to 26th in Dublin, Galway & Cork.

For more information please visit: https://balanceyourhormonesnaturally.eventbrite.ie   

Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD is the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health.  She is the Former President of the Food and Health Forum at the Royal Society of Medicine and the author of a number of internationally bestselling books including Getting Pregnant Faster.  Dr Glenville runs clinics in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Kilkenny, for more information see www.glenvillenutrition.ie.

STRESS AND DEPRESSION, mental health, CONCEPTION, PREGNANCY, PRENATAL DEPRESSION, ALISON CANAVAN, BE COMPLETE, DEPRESSION DURING PRENANCY, FERTILITY TREATMENT AND DEPRESSION,We often talk about postnatal depression in women but lately I’m hearing about more and more women struggling with both stress and depression when they are trying to conceive and during their pregnancy. Some women are lucky and conceive straight away, but for others trying for a baby can lead to years of stress, fertility treatments and, in some cases, depression.

According to the HSE, depression affects one in four women at some point in their life. It often occurs when women are in their 20s and 30s, when they may also be considering having children. Fertility treatment can cause you to live month to month, trying to balance and navigate a tight schedule of tests and treatments. This can be incredibly difficult even for the most resilient among us.

This journey can not only start to erode your self-confidence, but it can also affect your friendships and lifestyle, too. You can feel sad and scared, and for many life can spiral out of control, which is why it’s important to ‘mind yourself’. At times this is easier said than done, but eating well, exercising, keeping a gratitude journal, practising mindfulness and meditation, doing fun activities with your partner and spending time with friends can all help.

The most important thing to remember is to share your feelings. If you feel you can’t speak to your partner, finding a good therapist might help you to navigate your way through your emotions. Personally, I find it easier to talk to someone I don’t know who lends a non-judgmental ear, and counselling can sometimes help you to see things more clearly.

Researchers are not sure if mental health can affect fertility, although it is very clear that infertility can affect mental health! It is possible, though, that high levels of depression, anxiety and stress can affect the hormones that regulate ovulation.

If you have been trying for a baby for a long time and you finally become pregnant but the dark cloud doesn’t lift, please don’t be too hard on yourself. Pregnancy is an emotional time when hormones are rampaging through your body and they could be causing a bit of trouble on top of everything else.

Prenatal depression can present with symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Feeling irritable in yourself and with those around you
  • Feeling fearful of the future
  • Appetite loss
  • Being tired all the time
  • Becoming withdrawn

For other women pregnancy might be unplanned, uncomfortable or complicated so there are many reasons you might start to feel down. This isn’t helped by the myth that pregnant women should be happy all the time. Out of the estimated 33 per cent of women who will suffer from depression at this time, this myth can lead to 20 per cent not asking for help because they feel scared or ashamed, says Healy Smith, a reproductive psychiatrist.

Prenatal depression can be a precursor to postpartum depression if it isn’t properly treated so follow my rule, which is…

TALK-ASK-DO

  • Talk to someone you can trust or call a helpline
  • Ask for help or find help for someone you love
  • Do whatever it takes to get yourself well.

There are lots of non-medical approaches you can take including acupuncture, taking a good quality omega-3 supplement such as Eskimo as a mood booster, and psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Self-care is important, too: it’s actually selfless and not selfish. A bath, some adult colouring (my current favourite), a massage or even a short walk can all help.

The question of medication, however, is always a conversation you need to have with your doctor. Clinical depression needs medicating, but a lot of the time therapy, positive lifestyle changes and stress reduction techniques will help enormously. And if you are on medication already, it’s important to ask about its safety of during your pregnancy. Throughout our lives it’s important that we figure out our own wellness formula, do our research and try new things because we are all so different. If you are looking for good quality information relating to women’s mental health and wellness, visit Kelly Brogan MD My friends in New York recommended this reproductive psychiatric specialist’s website when I was really struggling for the way she combined both medical and holistic approaches.

helenabarker.com

ARTWORK BY : www.helenabarker.com

I just turned 37 last week and I’m at a time in my life where most of my friends are either having children or trying really hard to have children. Infertility now affects 1 in 7 couples in the UK and I imagine we are not far behind here in Ireland. There are so many factors that affect our fertility including elements that we have no control over like toxic chemicals in the air, food, water and cosmetics we use.

 

But what we do have control over is our lifestyle and we now know that what we eat has a profound influence on our health and indeed our quality of life. The saying from ‘womb to tomb’ really does ring true but maybe in this case we should bring it back even further and focus on the prospective parents health before conception??

 

Improving nutrition and lifestyle can rapidly improve a couple’s health and in turn their fertility. We often focus just on the female but if you think of the sperm as a ‘seed’ and the egg as ‘soil’ its obvious we should be focusing on both. Show me a plant or tree that has ever been grown without a seed? Exactly

 

Voluntary poisons like smoking, alcohol and caffeine should definitely be stopped and replaced with filtered water and a healthy diet. The easiest way to explain a healthy diet nowadays is make sure you spend the majority of time in the fruit and veg aisle and if you eat meat buy high quality animals proteins. Lets get back to using knives instead of tin openers in the kitchen and very simply stay away from packaged processed foods and sugars.

 

The reproductive system does need specific nutrients though which is why recent a pilot study into a natural nutrient supplement called pre-conceive, is so exciting. It showed improvements in key fertility parameters for both men and women.

 

The 90 day clinical study into pre-Conceive, which is Irish owned and manufactured showed that incorporating a healthier diet and lifestyle alongside the supplement, provided optimistic results for the 20 infertile Irish couples who took part. The results, after careful independent analysis, indicates better fertility rates in men and women, boasting improvements in DNA and motility, to name but a few.

 

More than eight out of 10 Irish men showed improvements in their sperm motility and also reduced cellular damage to their sperm. The clinical study is Europe’s first ever examination of a nutritional supplement and the effect on both male and female fertility parameters. Progressive motility, which measures sperm cells swimming in the right direction, was also greatly improved and reduced cellular damage to sperm cells was also noticed.

According to independent medical expert, Dr David Smallbone. “This new study shows that pre-Conceive combined with nutritional and lifestyle advice improves the environment for healthy sperm cell and egg development”.

Pre-Conceive is designed speci­fically for couples finding it hard to conceive. It can also help couples who are preparing for Assisted Reproduction, those who are looking to support the health of the mother during and after pregnancy, plus the health of the embryo and women who have had a miscarriage, or recurrent miscarriages.

 

Dr Smallbone believes that the report favourably shows that providing adequate nutritional materials can and does influence the body systems and that it becomes apparent that important systems, such as the endocrine system, can be affected by correct nutrition. However it does need time and six months is not an unreasonable amount of time, especially when several years of nutritional abuse lie behind the problem. Unless the nutritional requirements of the body are specifically catered for, it is highly unlikely that full health can be expected.

 

Mark Whitney of Pillar healthcare plans to conduct further research in the coming months but if this study is anything to go by its an exciting time for couples struggling to conceive. This is a great way for any couple to start their journey into the world of fertility. It can lay down all the groundwork for the male to produce ‘strong sperm’, the expectant mum to develop a healthier egg and positively influence the baby’s health.

 

Results Are In

Pre-Conceive is available through pharmacies, health food stores and online. It is recommended that couples follow at the very least a 90-day programme. Each box contains one month’s supply, containing 30 sachets and the highest strength fish oil on the market. (90 capsules / 3per day). Each 30 day supply costs €170. www.pillarhealthcare.ie