April Health Awareness Month:
Medfem Highlights The Link Between Health and Fertility
Each April the spotlight falls on health, with World Health Day observed globally and Health Awareness Month celebrated in South Africa. There is a general lack of awareness that poor lifestyle choices, common lifestyle diseases as well as a range of medical conditions will not only affect overall health but can also impact a couple’s fertility.
At Medfem Fertility Clinic, we have witnessed first-hand thousands of examples of the direct link between good health and fertility. In this article, our team explains how health and fertility is linked, overviews the lifestyle, health and medical conditions known to cause infertility, provides expert advice to improve your health and fertility, and encourages couples who are struggling with infertility to seek medical advice promptly.
Increasing numbers of South African couples are facing challenges in having children today. In fact, an estimated one in every six couples are having fertility challenges.
There is a concerning lack of awareness among people and medical professionals about the strong link between fertility and good overall health. The reality is that a successful pregnancy requires healthy eggs and healthy sperm to meet in a healthy internal environment. Where partners in a couple are struggling with poor health, the quality of their eggs and sperm will be affected negatively, and as a result, their fertility will be compromised.
Poor lifestyle choices, lifestyle diseases and many medical conditions that negatively affect your overall health will affect your fertility as well.
Among the many possible causes of infertility, certain lifestyle choices as well as stress feature strongly.
In fact, various lifestyle-related factors such as obesity, smoking, substance abuse and heavy alcohol consumption are known to have a negative impact on both male and female fertility and the success of fertility treatments.
A number of common lifestyle diseases is also known to adversely affect fertility, notably autoimmune diseases such as high levels of insulin (hyperinsulinemia) or prolactin (hyperprolactinemia), as well as thyroid disease (hypothyroidism), PCOS and endometriosis, which is one of the most common causes of infertility among women.
Autoimmune diseases play a significant role in the quality of the embryos and the uterine environment. Unfortunately, for the large numbers of people suffering from autoimmune diseases such as hyperinsulinemia and hyperprolactinemia, it will certainly negatively impact the quality of their eggs and sperm, and the conditions in the womb.
For example, high insulin levels have been proven to negatively affect both the quality of a women’s eggs and a man’s sperm, and can even transform a chromosomally normal egg or sperm into an abnormal egg or abnormal sperm, and a normal embryo into an abnormal embryo that will not implant successfully.
The same goes for prolactin, which is a hormone naturally produced by a woman’s body when she is pregnant and breastfeeding. Raised prolactin levels reduce the production of the hormones FSH and LH, both critical for a pregnancy, and also cause problems with regard to the thinning in the lining of the uterus. Prolactin levels can also be raised in men, and this causes abnormalities in the semen.
In many couples seeking fertility treatment, either one or both partners have a medical condition causing infertility.
There is a long list of possible medical causes of infertility. Just among the common causes of female infertility are abnormal thyroid, cervical factor, diminished ovarian reserve, uterine factor, advanced maternal age, anovulation, tubal occlusion blocked fallopian tubes and cancer treatments.
Most causes of male infertility are usually related to sperm disorders – in fact, damage to sperm production affects two thirds of men who are experiencing fertility challenges. Male infertility may also be caused by the testes themselves, the ducts that lead out from the testes, a functional problem in relation to sexual activity, hormonal issues, genetic problems or cancer treatments.
Expert advice: improving lifestyle choices
Lifestyle choices around diet, exercise, stress, smoking and alcohol consumption play a big role in good health. Our expert team at Medfem recommends the simple healthy lifestyle changes below, which you can start making immediately to boost fertility and your chances of getting pregnant.
*Eliminate smoking and alcohol – smoking has major adverse effects on both sperm and egg quality. Alcohol also reduces fertility in both partners.
*Improve nutrition – Diet plays a critical role in good health. A balanced diet could help to boost the chances of falling pregnant and having a healthy baby. Whether one or both partners are overweight or not, it is healthier to cut excessive carbs from your diet.
* Supplement – As most diets do not provide all the vitamins, minerals and amino acids required for optimum health, take over-the-counter supplements recommended by fertility experts for their role in boosting fertility, as they contain certain vitamins, minerals, herbs or other amino acids. Medfem recommends StaminoGro and Comega Vite.
*Manage stress – For 21 years, Medfem has been at the forefront of researching and managing the impact of stress on fertility. Not only does stress inhibit the ability to conceive, but infertility itself compounds an individual or couple’s stress levels. Recent literature and medical studies have shown that the reduction of stress can account for higher pregnancy rates. A good starting point is to determine if you or your partner has time urgency perfectionism (TUP) stress. This can be assessed free of charge on the following website www.timeurgency.com. If you are suffering from TUP stress, you can follow the TUP stress management program online or at Medfem Fertility Clinic.
Expert advice: treating lifestyle diseases
To ensure both healthy embryos and a healthy womb, autoimmune diseases such as high insulin levels, thyroid problems, endometriosis, PCOS and autoimmune disease must be addressed prior to fertility treatment like IVF to prevent recurrent failures.
Understanding the impact of autoimmune diseases on fertility and also on IVF success rates, our team at Medfem Fertility Clinic tests both male and female partners for autoimmune diseases. These lifestyle diseases are aggressively treated before any fertility treatment commences, while patients are guided to manage their diets and their lifestyle choices, to ensure the highest chance of conception.
Expert advice: treating medical conditions that affect fertility
As long as the list of possible medical causes of infertility is, the good news is that there is also a wide range of specialised medications and treatments for these conditions.
There is really only one way to know what is the cause of your specific and unique infertility challenge – and therefore what the right treatment is – and that is to have a consultation with a fertility specialist with extensive experience, expertise and access to advanced technology.
If you are concerned about your fertility, you should immediately contact a fertility specialist who will be able to identify the exact cause of your fertility problem and provide expert information regarding available treatment options.
Your next step
Medfem Fertility Clinic’s team are committed and understanding team of medical professionals, who have the experience, knowledge and desire to provide you with the best chance of a successful outcome at the end of your treatment.
If you would like to meet one of our fertility specialists, simply click here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.
Our Fertility Specialists can also meet with You During a Virtual Consultation Via Zoom or Skype. Click here to book a virtual consultation now.
We look forward to meeting you!