If you are having trouble becoming pregnant, you may want to consider how your physical and emotional health is affecting your ability to conceive. Understanding the facts and issues about fertility and wellness is very important when you are trying to become pregnant. The Fertility Institute, offers guidance for hopeful parents as well as options for fertility testing and treatment.
Many factors can affect a couple’s ability to conceive. Potential wellness problems may include:
- Body weight: If body fat is 10 to 15 percent above or below normal, the reproductive cycle can be affected.
- Hormonal issues: Ovulation is regulated by hormones, especially insulin. An irregular menstrual cycle could indicate insulin resistance. Correcting insulin resistance may be a key factor in promoting fertility.
- Stress: unresolved stress may increase cortisol and insulin, both of which affect normal reproductive function in both men and women
- Smoking & alcohol: Smoking and alcohol increase your risk of infertility. Exposure to toxins (phthalates, benzene etc) found in cigarette smoke can impair gonadal function in both men and women. Both can reprogram the DNA within sperm and egg potentially affecting future offspring.
First and foremost, we believe that a healthy body is the key to having a healthy baby. A healthy heart, a healthy gut, and a proper lifestyle balance can help prepare you and your body for the demands of pregnancy. It is best for both intended parents to be in optimal health before considering pregnancy.
Health and Epigenetics
Human nutrition and epidemiologic studies suggest that diet, lifestyle and environmental exposures alter fertility by changing the genetic information (DNA) in the eggs and sperm (epigenetic modification). Any embryos produced from these “modified” eggs and sperm, may develop into a child expressing an altered genetic makeup. This effect is termed “developmental programming.”
These “epigenetic” modifications of DNA that occur during developmental programming, are the result of a process called methylation. DNA methylation modifies the structure of the DNA (adding methyl groups), rendering the modified portion of the DNA, or gene, inactive.
Such methylation events, occurring in either parent, may affect offspring, even if the other spouse is healthy. Methylation events, either prior to or during pregnancy, may result in future health problems, such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, in the child.
For that reason, it is important that nutrition and lifestyle are considered, as an important part of family building. For more information, click the link below to request my free handout on Developmental Programming.
Integrated Fertility & Wellness Team
Our Integrated Fertility and Wellness Program professionals are dedicated to helping couples maintain their emotional, marital, and physical balance while traveling the path to fertility. We strongly encourage patients to consider meeting with Dr. Clisham early on to develop a plan for maintaining their equilibrium throughout the course of treatment at the Fertility Institute. They will help you review your current support systems, behavioral habits, stressors and coping skills, and develop a specific plan to improve or modify any areas where you may benefit from making some changes.
If you have fertility-related questions and would like to meet with our Fertility & Wellness Team for testing or treatment recommendations, please call our office at (504) 620-5899 or contact us online today. We can help you understand your options and determine the best course of action to help you build your family.
- Kral JG, Biron S, Simard S, et al. Large maternal weight loss from obesity surgery prevents transmission of obesity to children who were followed for 2 to 18 years. Pediatrics 2006; 118:1644-1649.
- King S, Laplante DP. The effects of prenatal maternal stress on children’s cognitive development: Project Ice Storm. Stress 2005;8:35-45
- 3Waterland RA, Garza C. Potential mechanisms of metabolic imprinting that lead to chronic disease. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69: 179-197.
- Waterland RA. Does nutrition during infancy and early childhood contribute to later obesity via metabolic imprinting of epigenetic gene regulatory mechanisms? Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Paediatr Program 2005;56:157-171.