Before you and your partner decide to start a family, you may be able to increase your chances for a successful pregnancy by making a few lifestyle adjustments.
How can I increase my odds of conceiving?
Women should take a prenatal vitamin with at least one milligram of folic acid for at least three months before conception to reduce the risk of spina bifida and central nervous system abnormalities. Men should take a multivitamin to optimize sperm function. Both partners should refrain from, or severely restrict, using alcohol, tobacco, caffeine or other drugs while trying to conceive or during pregnancy.
Both partners should have prenatal blood tests, including those for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, RPR for syphilis, rubella titer (German measles immunity), and a blood type evaluation. Women should be immunized against rubella at least one month before they start trying to have a family. Talk to your physician about cystic fibrosis screenings; detection of this defective gene is now available to all couples.
Effect of Smoking on Success Rates
Numerous studies have shown that smoking can have adverse effects on fertility. In women, smoking decreases in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) pregnancy rates by approximately half. Smoking also increases miscarriage rates. In men, smoking decreases sperm function and impairs fertilization. The effects of smoking linger in the body for several months, which is why the attitude of “I will stop when I get pregnant” might not work. The longer that one has not smoked, the better the chances for pregnancy. At Fertility Center of the Carolinas, we strongly recommend that both partners stop smoking at least two to three months before fertility treatments.
Stress and Infertility
Physical and emotional stress have long been implicated as factors in a couple’s ability to conceive, but we now have more solid evidence for their role. Stress raises levels of cortisol, one of the major metabolic hormones from the adrenal glands that can influence the way other hormones are produced and metabolized. Ovarian hormones, such as estradiol and progesterone, seem to be particularly vulnerable to the direct and indirect effects of cortisol. The problem is defining how much stress is too much for any given individual. Many couples with stressful lifestyles have no difficulty conceiving, hinting that other factors may override the stress effects.
To minimize stress during assisted reproductive technology cycles, every effort is made to fully educate couples about what they might expect during the process. In addition, IVF coordinators and physicians are happy to answer any questions you might have after you have reviewed your educational materials. Complementary therapies are available before, during, and after your ART cycle. Services include counseling on stress management and the mind-body connection by a trained therapist; massage therapy for tension relief and physical complaints; and acupuncture for relaxation and improved pelvic blood flow. Mounting evidence from published reports points to overall improvement in outcomes when such measures are used in tandem with traditional fertility therapies. They are all part of an innovative, holistic approach to helping couples achieve their parenting goals.
Patterned after the world renowned infertility program of the Mind/Body Medicine Institute at Harvard University, this program is designed to reduce the stress and isolation associated with infertility. Research has proven that intervention improves health, well-being and fertility.
The comprehensive 10-week course includes:
- An individual screening visit (required)
- Nine sessions (two-and-a-half-hours each) on a weekday evening (women attend all sessions, their partners come to two sessions)
- One full-day class on the weekend (for women and their partners)
Components of the class include:
- Training and practice of the relaxation response; breathing techniques and progressive muscle relaxation
- Nutrition and exercise, including a restorative yoga class
- Cognitive behavioral therapy to enhance coping, reduce stress and improve relationships
- Meditation, guided imagery and autogenics
- Information regarding acupuncture and massage therapy
- Instructor feedback on daily health logs
- Men’s support meeting
- Adoption information
- Male counselor for a men’s support group
- Massage therapist
- Yoga instructor
- Adoption advocate
Life Center Health & Conditioning Club
875 W. Faris Road
Greenville, SC 29605
Please call (864) 455-1600 for dates of the next session. Our financial counselors will help determine your cost of the program based on your insurance provider.