Whether you’re just thinking about starting your family or are actively trying for a baby, understanding your fertility is important to optimising your chance of success.
Did you know that one in six Australian couples will experience infertility? The good news is that there are things you can do to try and enhance your fertility and optimise your chances of having a baby.
Here are 5 things you need to know about your fertility if you’re thinking about having a baby.
1. Poor lifestyle choices can lead to infertility
Being overweight is a leading factor of infertility for both men and women. Obesity has been shown to decrease sperm quality in men and disrupt a woman’s menstrual cycles. If you or your partner are overweight, even a 10% decrease in your weight can have a positive impact on your fertility. A healthy diet consisting of quality protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats (stay tuned in the coming weeks for some fertility boosting recipes) such as olive oil and omega 3 can improve your weight and overall wellbeing. Smoking is also a big no-no! Smoking can affect the fertility of both males and females, causing erectile dysfunction and increased DNA damage to both eggs and sperm.
2. Infertility can affect both men and women
Problems with fertility are not just related to females – men have fertility issues as well! In fact, after a woman’s age, male related fertility factors are the second most common cause of infertility.
3. The caffeine effect
Caffeine is a stimulant found not only in coffee, but is present in tea, energy drinks, some soft drinks and even chocolate. Although there is no clear evidence that caffeine affects fertility, there are studies that have indicated that those who consume large amounts of caffeine may take longer to conceive or have a higher risk of miscarriage. Both men and women should ideally aim for less than 200mg of caffeine a day, which equals a maximum of one to two coffees or two to three cups of tea.
4. Age really does count
With so many people starting their families later in life, it is important to realise that by the time a woman is 40, her fertility is a quarter of what it was when she was 20. Women are born with all of the eggs that they will ever produce, so once these eggs begin to age, there is no way to halt or reverse this process.
5. It might be in the genes
Did you know that your fertility is mostly determined by genetics? Genetic factors can sometimes be an issue, with Klinefelter Syndrome, Turners Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis and Translocations being just some of the known conditions which may affect a person’s fertility. Also, if you have a family history of early of premature menopause, you may be at risk of experiencing it too.
Dr Anju Agarwal is an Obstetrician, Gynaecologist and Fertility Specialist with Monash IVF, consulting in Bendigo (Victoria). For more information on Anju, you can visit www.dranjuagarwal.com.au or call 03 5443 2276.