After (perhaps) overindulging during the holidays, many of us resolve to do better in the coming year: losing weight, exercising more, quitting smoking (important) or spending less. If you are struggling to get pregnant, however, your New Year’s resolution probably involves becoming a parent in 2017.
But combining a personal resolution with your desire to get pregnant could potentially help you achieve two goals.
It seems like a no brainer, but quitting smoking could be one of the most important health decisions you make in your lifetime and a major boost for your natural fertility. When you smoke, you ingest toxic chemicals into your bloodstream that don’t seem compatible with trying to conceive.
For men, smoking can have a major impact on sperm count and motility. For women, smoking has been found to affect ovulation, cause miscarriages and kill oocytes. This means that menopause occurs one to four years earlier in women who smoke.
Research has found infertility rates in smokers are about twice the rate of nonsmokers and increase with the number of cigarettes smoked and length of smoking history. Even fertility treatment can be compromised for those who smoke. So it is important that smokers start some type of smoking cessation program, such as medication, nicotine patches or hypnosis. Ask one of our doctors or your primary care physician what he or she would recommend and feels is safe for women and men trying to conceive.
Manage your weight
Losing weight is the holy grail of New Year’s resolutions, especially after packing on a few pounds after holiday overeating. But losing weight also can have the added benefit of improving your fertility and increasing your chances of success with IVF.
Achieving a normal body mass index (BMI) can help regulate menstrual cycles and ovulation. A physical exam also can detect whether thyroid disease or diabetes are altering a woman’s BMI. Women with PCOS also should try a PCOS-friendly diet that can help control her symptoms and enhance her fertility.
Overweight men also can benefit from weight control to prevent changes in testosterone level, sperm count and sperm motility.
There are a myriad of ways to try to lose weight, but the most important consideration is what technique will work best for you. Most experts have found that a combination of diet (Weight Watcher’s or another program) and exercise, executed in a slow, steady fashion, works most effectively.
Try fertility yoga
Mindfulness, stretching and flexibility are three characteristics of a typical yoga practice. There are many benefits to yoga, both for fertility and overall mental and physical health. Yoga can reduce stress and encourage a more positive mindset while increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs, in particular by opening up the hip and pelvic regions for both men and women.
There are a number of fertility yoga practitioners in our region and we are happy to make recommendations if you want to incorporate yoga into your lifestyle both for better fertility wellness and an enjoyable New Year’s resolution
Get emotional support
Make 2017 the year you receive the emotional support you need and deserve on your infertility journey. We can either refer you to a licensed mental health professional who specializes in infertility issues or to groups, both online and in-person, where you can discuss your feelings and coping strategies with other people walking in your shoes.
Though we can’t guarantee that any of these ‘resolutions’ will help you conceive, we believe that incorporating at least one into your life will make you feel more in control and optimistic about 2017. Happy New Year!
Smoking and Infertility Fact Sheet