Thursday, December 7, 2006

Reproductive Endocrinologist Suggests 15 Simple Ways to Prevent Infertility

Each year more than 7.3 people in the United States are affected by infertility, yet there are many simple ways to prevent infertility from affecting you. Dr. Sweet, a board certified practitioner in both the specialty of Obstetrics & Gynecology and the subspecialty of Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility offers 15 ways you can combat infertility:

1. Adopt stress busters

Some stress is normal but extremes of stress or inappropriate response to stress may affect fertility. By eating inadequately or in excess, your general medical condition may deteriorate making conception more difficult. By coping with stress through smoking and alcohol, additional damage to your fertility may occur.

2. Avoid Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Either through abstinence or condoms, one should always attempt to avoid sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes and venereal warts.

3. Avoid substance abuse

Nearly all forms of substance abuse can affect sperm production, egg release and embryo development. These substances include recreational drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.

4. Check your family tree

If you know that a close relative (parent or sibling) had diseases such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), early menopause and hypothyroidism, you may be at an increased risk for some of these same diseases. While not usually inherited like the color of hair and eyes, many families have predispositions for specific diseases and these diseases may affect fertility.

5. Freeze sperm, eggs, ovarian and testicular tissue

If there is going to be a significant delay in reproduction or if a patient may be at risk for loss of their eggs or sperm (i.e., chemotherapy and/or surgery), the freezing of sperm and eggs (considered investigational) may want to be considered. There may be some circumstances where it may be wise to consider freezing testicular and ovarian tissue although these procedures are experimental.

6. Get vaccinated

Diseases such as Mumps can affect sperm production. Many diseases (i.e., German Measles) are dangerous during pregnancy.

7. Have children sooner

Women are at greater risk for more sexual partners should marriage and childbearing be delayed. As women age, gynecologic conditions such as endometriosis and uterine polyps/fibroids become more common. Women become dramatically less fertile as they age, especially in the late 30's and 40's. Men's sperm production does also deteriorate with age.

8. If you are having problems, seek help quickly

The definition of infertility is the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse. If this time has passed, seek the assistance of your OB/GYN. If over the age of 35, consider seeking the assistance of a Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist since time is running out.

9. If you have had surgery or infections, seek assistance sooner

If a woman has had ovarian surgery in the past or any sexually transmitted diseases, consider seeking evaluation sooner. Men who have had infections of the prostate, testicles/nearby structures and men, who have injured their testicles to the point of bruising or swelling, may be at risk for sperm problems.

10. Maintain your ideal body weight

Weight-related fertility factors are certainly known. Obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes can affect ejaculation, sperm production, ovulation, miscarriage rates and increase fetal malformation rates. A balanced diet is important for numerous health concerns including fertility.

11. Some forms of hormonal contraception may prevent disease

Hormonal contraception seems to reduce the incidence of some sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, the hormonal contraception may protect from endometriosis, endometrial polyps and the formation of endometrial cancer.

12. Stay active

It is very important part of a balanced lifestyle to stay active and healthy. Sedentary lifestyles lead to weight problems, which can potentially impact fertility.

13. Stay healthy

While too numerous to list, many significant medical problems, especially those that are not under strict control, may damage your fertility potential over time. One classic example is diabetes. Stay as healthy as you can and treat existing medical problems effectively. Remember that delivery is like a mini-marathon and if you are out of shape, it may be a difficult run, at best.

14. Take a look at your meds

Calcium channel blockers used for high blood pressure and medications used to treat arthritis may affect fertility potential. Many medications are not recommended during pregnancy while others may be taken without concern to current & future fertility issues. Seek consultation with your physician for additional information. Cancer treatment (i.e., chemotherapy, surgery and/or radiation treated) may result in sterility.

15. Think quantity not quality

Couples, who have frequent intercourse, up to five times per week, seem to get pregnant the fastest. Relations every 36 and 48 hours bracketing around ovulation is probably ideal. Sexual position does not play a role in fertility.

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