Couples must change - IVF is no quick fix

Couples must change – IVF is no quick fix

Herald Sun 8 September 2012

Couples told to change lifestyles to improve fertility health instead of relying on IVF

Brigid O’Connell

IVF doctors say increasing numbers of prospective parents are turning to artificial fertilisation after eating, drinking and smoking themselves into poor fertility health.

And experts say it’s not enough for just the woman to get into shape – the male partner’s weight, diet, cigarette and alcohol consumption have a significant impact on fertility and sperm quality.

Monash IVF clinical research director Associate Professor Luk Rombauts said many patients unrealistically saw IVF as the “silver bullet” to solving lifestyle-related infertility problems.

“It’s often the expectation people have that the doctor will pour a little bit of fairy dust over and it will fix them very quickly,” Associate Prof Rombauts said.

“The way I put it to my patients is this is not one person’s efforts. It takes a whole team of fertility specialists, nurses and scientists to get them pregnant with IVF.

“But they need to play an important part in that process as well.

“It’s often ignorance, but fortunately there are a significant number of things they can do.”

Smoking is a big risk factor in male infertility and also increases the risk of childhood cancers fourfold.

It’s often the expectation people have that the doctor will pour a little bit of fairy dust over and it will fix them very quickly

But he said obesity was the biggest hurdle – decreasing both sperm quality and disrupting menstrual cycles – with at least 30 per cent of couples attending the clinic seriously overweight.

“We know if someone is seriously overweight, their chance of getting pregnant is half of what it could be,” Associate Prof Rombauts said.

“And it doesn’t stop there. Once they fall pregnant women in this high weight range have a doubled risk of losing that pregnancy through miscarriage.

“Even a 10 per cent weight loss could have a big impact,” he said.

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