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How to prepare for IVF treatment
April 21, 2018 | 6:58 PM
by Dr Pankaj Shrivastav
Couples should know when to seek reproductive medical advice.
 
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Infertility has many causes. It can be a result of several contributing factors often occurring in a couple simultaneously. Awareness is the key to overcome infertility and while a couple may not be imminently looking to start a family, it is prudent to know the factors that affect one’s fertility and correct them. This can prove in keeping infertility at bay and arms the couple with the knowledge to naturally boost their own fertility. Here are some of the things that you need to be aware of before starting a family:

Know when to seek help

Couples should know when to seek reproductive medical advice. For a young couple they could wait for a year of trying before seeking medical advice but if the wife is over the age of 35 and has not conceived within 6 months she should go to a fertility doctor immediately. Do your homework and seek a doctor based on their credentials.

Be financially smart



Infertility treatments are expensive and often require several rounds of treatment. It is important to be aware of the costs of the treatments. Avoid environmental toxins

During the last 50 years, there is a trend of deteriorating sperm quality due to contamination of water. This could be due to higher levels of pesticides, chemicals and hormones used in dairy, poultry and livestock farming. Similarly, ongoing exposure to radiations from laptop and cellphone usage are associated with poor sperm quality. Toxin chemicals from burning of industrial wastes, plastics and exhaust fumes enter the water table and are now being found to affect egg production and quality in women, thereby risking their fertility levels. Be aware of pesticides and hormones in food produce sold at markets which find their way into our bodies and adversely affect sperms and eggs. They act as hormone opposers disrupting reproductive mechanisms in our bodies and resulting in infertility. There are also certain professions which bring with them exposure to toxins and pollutants in the air like chemicals, solvents, pesticides/fertilisers and lead-based paints. It is important for men to wear correct protective gear and clothing to reduce the extent of exposure.

Avoid smoking and alcohol

In this part of the world, smoking is by far the greatest adversity that fertility faces.

Make healthy food choices

What we eat has an influence on acidic and alkaline levels of our body. While the human body is able to tolerate fluctuations in pH levels, a major drop in these levels can have a major impact in reproductive process. This is because sperms prefer an alkaline environment, as opposed to an acidic environment; in other words, higher pH levels are more ideal for sperm. Ideally, a woman’s vaginal pH levels range from 3.8 – 4.5 for most of her cycle. Then during ovulation, luteinising hormonal surges are meant to keep vaginal pH levels within the 7 to 14 range. These levels are considered to be within the alkaline range, and are non-toxic to sperm – meaning that these pH levels help them survive for up to 48 hours inside a woman’s reproductive system. To ensure that the body and reproductive tracts’ pH remains normal, start by replacing or decreasing the consumption of acid forming foods such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar, dairy products. Increase consumption of alkalising foods by incorporating leisure activities such as exercising and massages, all of which have a calming effect.

Adopt a fitness regime

A fitness regime is very important to balance out the calories. Walk/cycle to work if possible especially during the cooler months of the year. Take the stairs and time yourself. When the weather is good, go for a jog on the beach. The fresh air and cardio will do wonders to your mind and body. Try not to take the car everywhere — see if you can walk to the grocery store down the block. Aim to get 3-4 hours a week of intense workouts as the habit will not only keep diseases like diabetes and heart diseases at bay but will also boost the wellness of your reproductive organs, thereby increasing your fertility.

Avoid obesity

One of the most notable lifestyle condition that adversely affects fertility rates in men and women is obesity. Obesity in most cases gives rise to diabetes and/or PCOS (polycystic ovarian disease). These in turn make it that much more likely for women to gain more weight and this can result in them becoming anovulatory or not producing eggs. It is worth noting that one should be careful about not just how much one eats but also what one eats. Opt for low glycemic index and wholesome foods in balanced, regular meals.

PCOS and other hormonal imbalances

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS incidents have recently increased in frequency and yet awareness of the disorder lags far behind. Obesity makes insulin resistance worse because there’s greater strain on the pancreas to produce more insulin to control the circulating sugar.

Stress and mental health awareness

Stress management has been a hot issue for fertility experts and researchers are now implementing holistic approach towards its treatment. It has been scientifically proven that it is both a cause and a result and plays a great role in fertility issues. Stress often triggers a change in the regular hormonal balance. This could make ovulation, menstruation, and conception more difficult. When you are trying to conceive, aim to be as stress-free as possible. Great ways to reduce stress is to include activities like yoga, exercise, etc.

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Dr Pankaj Shrivastav is Director of Conceive Gynaecology & Fertility Hospital in Sharjah

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