Oladapo Ashiru, Professor of Anatomy/Consultant Reproductive Endocrinologist
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Couples trying to conceive should do STD checks. STD’s stand for sexually transmitted diseases. Most people believe they and their partners are STD-free. However, there are some STD’s which can be asymptomatic, meaning that you may not be aware you have them, as there are no obvious symptoms.
One of such is a Chlamydia infection. In men, a Chlamydia infection can lead to sperm abnormalities, including sperm antibodies. In women, it can lead to scarring, blocked tubes, and miscarriage.
A study found 60 per cent of asymptomatic male partners of infected females attending a fertility clinic to be infected with Chlamydia. Most STD’s are easy to treat, so it pays for both partners to have an STD check. There is no point in only one partner going for a test as the other partner can re-infect them again.
There is a common misconception that egg and sperm quality cannot be improved. In fact, it is possible to improve the quality of your egg and sperm; however, it takes 120 days. This is because it takes approximately 120 days for eggs to mature and sperm to develop.
During the generation and maturation of gamete cells – sperm and ovum – that form an embryo, everything that you and your partner ingest, inhale or are exposed to will influence the health of your eggs and sperm for better or worse, and the ultimate quality of the genetic building blocks you pass onto your child.
This is why it’s crucial to follow a good preconception plan for a minimum of two to four months before conception. A baby is a 50 to 50 product of his or her parents; therefore, optimising the quality of eggs and sperm is of paramount importance. Sperm disorders contribute to 40 per cent of infertility cases. Women who suffer from recurrent miscarriages often have partners with low sperm counts and visually abnormal sperm.
If you are going to have a house guest, the first thing you do is to clean the guest room and ensure overall comfort, the same should obtain for a baby that will be a guest of the womb for a period of nine months.
Therefore, both partners should detox, follow a fertility diet, take preconception supplements and avoid reproductive toxins discussed in this article for a minimum of four months before conception.
Take a good-quality preconception and pregnancy supplement. Regardless of whether you are eating organic produce and a healthy diet, you are unlikely to be getting all the nutrients your body needs for optimal fertility from your diet. This is why supplementation is important.
Getting pregnant and growing a new human being with your own reserves requires a surplus of nutrients and energy. In your body’s accounting terms, pregnancy is a luxury, a splurge of energy and nutrients. Some of the key nutrients for fertility are:
Zinc, Selenium, Magnesium, Calcium, B12, B6, Folic acid, Vitamin C, Omega-3 fats
Avoid coffee, smoking, and alcohol
You may not want to hear this, but drinking coffee decreases fertility. A large study from Connecticut found as little as one cup of coffee per day increases the risk of not conceiving by 55 per cent. And if you have two to three cups per day that risk rises to 100 per cent and continues to increase with an additional cup up to 176 per cent. And did you know that women who drank coffee before and during pregnancy had twice the risk of miscarriage?
Alcohol is harmful to women’s eggs and men’s sperm and as little as one glass can reduce fertility by 50 per cent! This can further lead to the damage of the developing embryo and may result in miscarriage. And although it has been known for a long time that drinking while pregnant is a no-no, drinking before pregnancy has been largely ignored. This doesn’t stop with coffee and alcohol. Smoking and recreational drugs can also reduce your odds of conception.
A study tested the effects of cigarette smoking on semen quality in men and found that sperm motility (ability to propel forward) decreased in light smokers while heavy smoking produced abnormal sperm shape.
Scientists have discovered that quitting smoking may increase sperm count in men who quit smoking for five to 15 months, 50 per cent to 800 per cent respectively.
Couples must however know that conventional IVF and other assisted reproductive technology treatments do not address the root causes of infertility.
These causes include nutritional deficiencies, toxic exposure, stress, food intolerances, allergies and immune deficiencies. These subtle but critical factors interact synergistically to impact the quality of your eggs and sperm, affecting your ability to conceive and the health of your embryo.
Media reports of grandparents funding their children’s IVF treatments in the hope of a grandchild illustrate the financial strain these treatments can pose to couples.
While celebrities and wealthy couples can afford it, many struggle as treatments cost a lot especially with the current exchange rate. Globally, IVF cost is between $5,000 and $150,000 per live birth depending on the centre.
IVF should be the last option after all natural treatment options have been exhausted. It should never be the first. The rate of success of IVF is (on average) 25 per cent per single attempt. Studies show that by following a natural preconception programme prior to attempting IVF, the success rate is increased to 47.1 per cent per single attempt.
I always advise couples to undertake a preconception programme as a first step and reserve IVF as a final option. Most infertility can be treated without IVF. However, if IVF is needed the success rate of each attempt is nearly doubled by combining it with a natural preconception programme.
A medical detoxification process for conception
It is now well accepted that a good medically supervised detoxification has a great place in helping to rid the body of these environmental toxins that can be hazardous to the reproductive system.
Our experience in the last four years with Mayr therapy confirms and speaks volume of the various toxins present in the body with reproductive harm. We have equally been impressed by the success of our results which was presented at World Fertility Congress in September 2016 in New Delhi.
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