Fertility Week 2016 (1st – 7th September)
Fertility Week is a National awareness campaign supported by the Australian Government Department of Health, designed to get people talking about fertility health. This year’s theme was ‘7 ways in 7 days’, with each day exploring a new theme related to fertility health. For more information about Fertility Week visit YourFertility.org.au
Timing of Sex
- Timing sex to coincide with a women’s most fertile time of the month is the best first step couples should take in order to get pregnant.
- A women’s fertile window is linked to her menstrual cycle and ovulation.
- For a 28 day cycle, a woman is most fertile between days 12 and 15, so these are the best days for couples to time sex for natural conception.
- The pregnancy rate for natural conception is 20% per month. That is, if you identify a women’s fertile window and time sex accordingly your chances of success are 20% per month.
- Sexually transmitted infections can have a lasting effect on fertility if left untreated.
- Chlamydial infections are very common in our community with about 25% of people aged 25-35 years having past or current infections. Many people have no symptoms and therefore don’t receive treatment and as a result, chronic infections may occur that damage reproductive tissue in men and women.
- Chlamydial infection of the testis can damage sperm production leading to male infertility.
- Chlamydial infection can be easily treated with antibiotics, however, in some women the infection will result in serious damage to the fallopian tubes.
- Age is one of the most significant factors affecting couples seeking to have a baby.
- Both men and women have a reproductive lifespan.
- Female fertility declines slightly at aged 30 years, then more significantly at 37-38 years and at age 40, a women’s fertility is one quarter of when she was 30.
- 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.
Epigenetics – Parenting begins before conception
- The Australian Epigenetics Alliance defines epigenetics as the study of heritable changes in our genome (the complete set of all our genes) that occur without altering the DNA or genetic code.
- Epigenetics in relation to fertility health refers to the effects of pollution, pesticides, BPAs, and growth hormones that we are exposed to in our lifestyle.
- Exposure to harmful herbicides and pesticides through non-organic fruit and vegetables can have a harmful impact on fertility for men and women through epigenetics. If choosing non-organic produce, it’s important to wash your fruit and vegetables thoroughly.
Smoking, Alcohol & Caffeine
- Smoking is hazardous to your fertility, your general health and your baby.
- Smoking can affect the fertility of both men and women, causing erectile dysfunction and increased DNA damage to sperm and eggs.
- There are no safe levels of alcohol consumption for women while trying to conceive and during pregnancy.
- Pregnant women are more sensitive to caffeine; it breaks down more slowly and can cross the placenta and directly affect the developing baby. Keep intake below 200mg per day.
Weight & Exercise
- Weight issues are important for men and women when considering fertility. Obesity has been shown to decrease sperm quality and disrupt menstrual cycles. If you or your partner is obese (BMI < 25), even a 10% decrease in your weight could have a demonstrable result on your fertility.
- BMI can be calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms (kg) with your height in metre (m), then divide the answer by your height again to get your BMI.
- Women who are underweight (BMI < 20) are also at risk of reduced fertility. If you are underweight and your period cycles are long or irregular, you may not ovulate, so a small weight gain may prompt your body to ovulate and boost your fertility prospects.
- You will benefit from regular exercise and being fit prior to pregnancy. For women who are unfit, developing at least a moderate level of fitness is advisable – build up to 45 minutes of brisk walking 5 days per week.
Vitamin & Minerals
- It’s important to have a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, good quality proteins such as lean meat, fish, eggs, beans and lentils, and complex carbohydrates such as whole grains as well as plenty of calcium in the form of low fat dairy. This will help your body absorb the vitamins and minerals essential in pregnancy.
- Folate supplementation is recommended at least 1 month prior to pregnancy and for 3 months into the pregnancy as this reduces the chance of the baby having a defect in the neural tube, such as spina bifida. Folate can be taken alone or with other pre-pregnancy supplements.