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Infertility and pre conceptual care

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Could it be that something as simple as what you eat can have an impact on your fertility?

There is much that can be done to increase the chances of conceiving a healthy baby. The first step is for both of you to start eating a healthy balanced diet. There are no specific foods or beverages that will definitely make anyone more fertile. However eating fresh, wholesome preferably organic foods that are right for your individual genetic type have a subtle, but powerful effect on all of the body's systems, including the cells in our reproductive system.

We think of conception as the beginning of life, but in reality the 3 months prior to conception are of extreme importance. The health of the man’s sperm is dependent upon his diet for the previous 3 months before conception. So the obvious is:

  • Avoid too much alcohol.
  • Avoid cigarettes and drugs
  • Avoid working or using harmful chemicals
  • Avoid eating too many processed foods
  • Eat plenty of organic vegetables and fruits
  • Eat the right protein, grains, nuts and legumes for your genetic type (see Individualised Nutrition Page)
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Not following the above recommendations may lead to defective sperm. A low sperm count may be due to environmental factors, such as oestrogenic pesticides, but a poor diet will also lead to weakened or deformed sperm.

Making positive changes in your diet can not only have an impact on your fertility, it can better prepare your body to handle the rigors of pregnancy and assist in the creation of a healthy baby.

Many couples expect they will conceive the very first month they try - and are concerned when a pregnancy does not occur. The key is for both of you to be in optimum health at least 3 months before trying to conceive and approach conception in a relaxed healthy state of body and mind. 

Q. What does eating an individualised diet have to do with fertility?

Simply put, there is a chemical reaction between your blood type antigen and the food you eat. That's because the proteins in foods have antigens as well, and these antigens are similar to the blood type antigens. If you eat food that contains a foreign antigen, your immune system will create anti-blood type antibodies to it, and it will be rejected by your system.

These antibody reactions can dramatically affect your health, weakening your immune system, increasing inflammation, disturbing your digestive processes, and upsetting your metabolic balance. They can also be a factor in infertility or miscarriage when a mother and father have opposing blood types or when a mother is carrying a fetus of an opposing blood type.

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It stands to reason that the best way to minimize the chances of blood type incompatibility is to eat foods that are right for your blood type and avoid foods that trigger an antibody or antigen reaction.

Research has shown that many of the problems associated with fertility result from some form of blood type incompatibility, either between the mother and her fetus, or between the mother and the father.

Why would this occur? Each blood type is a chemical marker called an antigen. These blood type antigens can act like barriers against foreign intruders, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. When our immune system encounters a harmful foreign intruder, it creates antibodies against it. These antibodies serve as an early warning system. The next time the foreign intruder is encountered, it will be attacked and destroyed. The antibodies we make against other blood types are actually induced early in life by bacteria and sometimes by the first foods we eat.

Blood Type O carries anti-A and anti-B antibodies and rejects anything with an A-like or B-like antigen. Type A carries anti-B antibodies, and Type B carries anti-A antibodies. Only Type AB carries no anti-blood type antibodies, which is why Type AB individuals can receive blood transfusions from anybody.

The Antigen-Antibody Dynamic

If You Are ... You Produce Antibodies to ...
Type O A and b
Type A B
Type B A
Type AB None

Several studies conducted over the past forty years have concluded that infertility and habitual miscarriage may be the result of antibodies in the woman's vaginal secretions reacting with blood type antigens in the man's sperm. In one of these studies, it was determined that the majority of miscarriages were of Type A or Type B fetuses, caused as the result of incompatibility with Type O mothers who produced anti-A and anti-B antibodies. What seems to be missing in many physicians' understanding of miscarriage is that these anti-blood type antibodies are often the result of provocations produced by eating the wrong foods for one's blood type. These foods act in many ways as a "bad blood transfusion," sensitizing the person against future exposure to foreign blood type antigens-including that of a spouse.

A Type O mother and a Type A father can produce either Type O or Type A offspring-although A is dominant over O. If a fetus was Type A in a type O mother, blood type incompatibility could not be ruled out as a cause of miscarriage.

The good news is that mixed-blood type parents can have healthy babies, even if they produce antibodies against each other's blood type antigens. This can be achieved by creating the properly balanced immune system and minimizing provocations that might compromise it.

Obviously, blood type incompatibility is not the only cause of infertility. Nor does the blood type diet magically resolve all fertility problems. But it's just common sense to approach pregnancy in the optimum state of health. Following a dietary regimen that is geared precisely for your blood type is helpful in enhancing your system's response to the many stresses involved in bringing a child to full term.
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Q. What are the chances of a normal fertile couple conceiving in one month?
Please remember that in a single menstrual cycle, the chance of a perfectly normal couple achieving a successful pregnancy is only about 25%, even if they have sex every single day. This is called their fecundity which describes their fertility potential. Humans are not very efficient at producing babies!

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There are many reasons for this, including the fact that some eggs don't fertilize and that some of the fertilized eggs ( embryos) don't grow well in the early developmental stage because of a random genetic error.

Getting pregnant is a game of odds - it's a bit like playing Russian Roulette and it's impossible to predict when an individual couple will get pregnant! However, over a period of a year, the chance of a successful pregnancy is between 80 and 90%, so that 7 out of 8 couples will be pregnant within a year. These are the normal "fertile" couples - and the rest are "labeled" infertile - the medical text book definition of Infertility being the inability to conceive even after trying for a year.
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Q. What is primary Infertility? What is secondary Infertility? Couples who have never had a child, are said to have "primary Infertility", while those who have become pregnant at least once but are unable to conceive again, are said to have "secondary Infertility." ?The approach to both types of Infertility is very similar. However, patients with secondary Infertility have a better prognosis, because they have proven their fertility in the past.
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Q. What are the factors which affect the chances of an infertile couple getting pregnant in one month?
What happens when a couple has a fertility problem? The chances of their getting pregnant depends upon a number of variables multiplied together.

Consider a couple where both the husband and wife have a condition that impairs their fertility. For example, the husband's fertility, based on a reduced sperm count is 50 percent of normal values. His wife ovulates only in 50 percent of cycles; and one of her fallopian tubes is blocked. With three relative Infertility factors, their chance of conception is 0.5 (sperm count) X 0.5 (ovulation factor) X 0.5 (tubal factor) = 0.125, or 12.5 percent of normal.

Since the chance of conception in normal fertile couples is only 25% in any one cycle, the probability of pregnancy in any given month for this couple without treatment is only 3 percent (0.125 X 25 = 0.03125)! Even if they kept on trying for 5 years, their chance of conceiving on their own would be 60% only.

Saint Johns Wart

Thus, Infertility problems multiply together and magnify the odds against a couple achieving a pregnancy. This is why it is important to correct or improve each partner's contributing Infertility factors as much as possible in order to maximize the chances of conception.

If infertile couples had 300 years in which to breed, most wives would get pregnant without any treatment at all! Of course, time is at a premium, so the odds need to be improved - and this is where medical treatment comes in.
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Q. When should you start worrying and seek medical advice?
If you have been having sexual intercourse two or three times a week at about the time of ovulation, without any form of birth control for a year or more and are not pregnant, you meet the definition of being infertile. Pregnancy may still occur spontaneously, but from a statistical point of view, the chances are decreasing and you may now want to start thinking about seeking medical help. There is no "right" time to do so - and if it is causing you anxiety and worry, then you should consult a doctor. Even though you may be embarrassed and feel that you are the only ones in the world with the problem, you are not alone. Many couples experience Infertility and many can be helped.

Unfortunately, while Infertility is always an important problem, it is usually never an urgent one. This often means that couples keep on putting off going to the doctor. "We'll take care of it next month". Tragically, many find that time flies, and before they realize it, their chances of getting pregnant have started to decline, even before they have had a chance to take treatment properly. Set your priorities, so that you have peace of mind that you tried your best. After all, if you don't take care of your own Infertility problem, who will? Kicking yourself when you are 50 years old for failing to take treatment when you were younger will not help. A note of caution..... There are certain conditions that warrant seeing a medical practitioner sooner:

• Periods at three-week (or less) intervals • No period for longer than three months • Irregular periods • A history of pelvic infection • Two or more miscarriages • Women over the age of 35 - time is now at a premium ! • Men who have had prostate infections • Men whose testes are not felt in the scrotum
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Q. What can you do to improve your own fertility?
Tips for Infertility Self-help: Before seeking medical help, remember some of the things you can do to enhance your own fertility potential.

Body weight, diet and exercise - Proper diet and exercise are important for optimal reproductive function and women who are significantly overweight or underweight can have difficulty getting pregnant. Although most of a woman's estrogen is manufactured in her ovaries, 30% is produced in fat cells. Because a normal hormonal balance is essential for the process of conception, it is not surprising that extreme weight levels, either high or low, can contribute to Infertility. Body fat levels that are 10% to 15% above normal can contribute to Infertility, with an overload of estrogen throwing off the reproductive cycle. Body fat levels 10% to 15% below normal can completely shut down the reproductive process, so that women with eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, or those who are on very low-calorie or restrictive diets are at risk, especially if their periods are irregular. Female athletes, marathon runners, dancers, and others who exercise very intensely may also find that their menstrual cycle is abnormal and their fertility is impaired.

Stop smoking - Cigarette smoking has been associated with a decreased sperm count in men. Women who smoke also take longer to conceive.

Stop drinking alcohol - Alcohol (beer and wine as well as hard liquor) intake in men has been associated with low sperm counts.

Saint Johns Wart

Review your medications - A number of medications, including some of those used to treat ulcer problems and high blood pressure, can influence a man's sperm count. If you are taking any medications, talk with your doctor about whether or not it can affect your fertility. Many medications taken during early pregnancy can affect the fetus. It is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist that you are attempting to become pregnant before taking prescription medications or over the counter medications, such as aspirin, antihistamines, or diet pills.

Stop abusing drugs - Drugs such as marijuana and anabolic steroids decrease sperm counts. If you have used drugs, discuss this with your doctor. This is confidential information. Both partners should stop using any illicit drugs if they want a healthy baby.

Limit your caffeine (tea, soft drinks and coffee) intake

Eat Right For Your Baby – Carole will teach you how !
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Q. How often should you have sex?
Frequency of intercourse. The simple rule is - as often as you like; but the more often you have sex, the better your chances. Thus, for couples who have sex only on weekends (often the price they pay for a heavy work schedule) the chance of having sex on the fertile preovulatory day is only one-third that of couples who have sex every other day - which means they may take three times as long to conceive.

Also remember that you cannot "store up" sperm, which means that there is really no advantage to abstaining from sex if you are trying to conceive. In this case, more is better, and in fact studies have shown that fresh sperm have a better chance of achieving a pregnancy than sperm which have been stored up for many days.
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Q. How can you time baby-making sex?
Timing of intercourse. Unlike animals, who know when to have sex in order to conceive (because the female is in "heat" or estrus when she ovulates), most couples have no idea when the woman ovulates. The window of opportunity during which a woman can get pregnant every month is called her "fertile phase"? and is about 2-3 days before ovulation occurs as well as the day of ovulation. Timing intercourse during this "fertile period" is important and can be easily learnt, Carole will teach you how to recognise the signs. However, some couples are so anxious about having sex at exactly the right time that they may abstain for a whole week prior to the "ovulatory day ". This over attention can be counterproductive (because of the anxiety and stress it generates) and is not advisable. A mans sperm lasts approx. 2-3 days and a womans egg approx. 12 hours, so, all that really matters is that there is some sperm in the woman's fallopian tubes during the time of ovulation.
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Q. Does sexual position matter?
Position and technique of intercourse. Most doctors advise a male superior position; and also advise that the woman remain lying down for at least 5 minutes after sex; and not wash or douche afterwards. A number of products used for lubrication during intercourse, such as petroleum jelly , K-Y jelly or vaginal cream, have been shown to kill the sperm . Therefore, these products should be avoided if you are trying to get pregnant.
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Q. How can the older woman check her fertility potential?

Saint Johns Wart

Women who are more than 30 and who wish to postpone childbearing should get their FSH levels checked on Day 3 of their cycle. This is a simple blood test which allows the doctor to check your ovarian reserve ( the quantity and quality of the eggs in your ovaries). A high level suggests poor ovarian reserve and should be a wake-up alarm that your biological clock is ticking away rapidly. It's important that this test should be done in a reliable laboratory.

The platinum standard is currently a saliva test entitled the Female Hormone Panel (FHP). The quality and amount of information contained in this diagnostic procedure is simply superior to blood tests.
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Q. What about herbal medicines which claim to improve your fertility?
There are many websites which sell herbs and other potions which claim to improve your fertility. You should seek out a trained Medical Herbalist such as Carole Symons who is qualified to give advice in this area, rather than trusting an unknown source.
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Q. Which is the "right time" to plan a baby?
While there can be no simple answer to this question, remember that a woman's fertility is maximal between the ages of 20 and 30. Beyond the age of 30, fertility starts to decline; and this drop is quite sharp after the age of 35; and precipitate after the age of 38. From a purely biologic point of view, nature has designed women's bodies so that they have babies between the ages of 20 and 35. However, the right time to have a baby is a very personal and individual decision, which each couple needs to make for themselves.
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Q. Has the fertility of couples declined in modern times?
Possibly. The reasons for this include:

1. The increasing age of women at the time of marriage and childbearing

2. The increased incidence of sexually transmitted diseases or STDs which damage the reproductive tract in both men and women

3. Decreasing sperm counts in men which is a worldwide phenomenon. An interesting observation made recently, has been that men's sperm counts? worldwide have been falling in the last few decades. This is probably due to a combination?environmental pollution and the stresses of modern day life.

The good news is that there is definitely an increasing awareness about Infertility in society today. It is no longer a taboo topic, and couples, supported by their families, are much more willing to seek medical assistance.
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Q. Where can I get help?
Saint Johns Wart
The first thing you need to do is become well informed about Infertility and your treatment options. You may choose to schedule a consultation with Carole when Infertility is a concern. This first visit should include both partners. Carole will usually outline the possible causes of Infertility, provide an evaluation plan and get you both on the right diets and supplementation for your individual type. The first step should be to achieve an accurate diagnosis to try to find out why pregnancy isn't occurring. Once a diagnosis has been determined, the couple and Carole should talk again about a treatment plan. You may be surprised at how effective Herbal Medicine, Individualised nutrition together with acupuncture (available as a package with Acupuncturist and shaitsu master Bernard Nolan at The Third Space Medicine www.thethirdspacemedicine.com) can be regarding fertility issues. We have a very high success rate!

Study shows that by balancing hormonal levels, your chances of conception can be dramatically increased (see testimonials).
The female reproductive cycle is completely run by hormones. Without the hormones, conception would not occur. So, if any of your key hormones are unbalanced then infertility is the result. Maintaining a balance of this fine-tuned system of glands and hormone excretions is paramount to the act of conception.
Carole's herbal prescription and individualised nutrition will help you create a more nurturing environment for conception to occur and the optimum conditions to nurture a healthy baby.

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