Infertility affects an estimated 15% of reproductive age couples worldwide, 48 million couples and 186 million individuals worldwide. If you are one of the individuals struggling to conceive and were told that there is nothing that can be done to optimize your fertility and improve the quality of your eggs or sperm, do not get discouraged! There is plenty of research showing that nutrition, acupuncture, lifestyle and other modifiable factors can enhance fertility in both, men and women. Below you can find a few scientific articles that can reassure you not to give up on your fertility goals just yet.
Fertility & Obesity
Weight management is an important factor that affects both female and male fertility. As per this research article, overweight and obese women are more likely to struggle with infertility, take longer to conceive and have an increased risk of having a miscarriage when compared to women of normal weight. Male obesity is related to subfertility, decreased sperm quality, and erectile dysfunction. While obesity negatively affects fertility, discuss your weight goals with your Fertility Dietitian before spending hours in the gym losing a large amount of weight as that can also potentially decrease your chances of conception.
Fertility & Underweight
Being underweight is another big factor that needs to be addressed with your Fertility Dietitian, as it may cause hormonal imbalances and lead to infertility.
Fertility & Vitamin D
Suboptimal vitamin D status negatively affects both male and female fertility, as well as compromising the outcomes of IVF and increasing pregnancy-related complications. The good news is that correcting one's vitamin D status can improve fertility and the chances of conception. However, this doesn't mean that you should start taking over the counter vitamin D supplements without consulting your doctor or a Fertility Dietitian first. You may be wasting your time by taking a wrong dose that may not do anything for you, or you may wind up taking excessive supplementation that can put you at risk for toxicity.
Fertility & Stress
Stress can negatively affect fertility as it's associated with delaying or inhibiting the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge of the menstrual cycle, negatively affecting implantation, and reducing ovarian reserve and anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) levels. The study of couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) found a lower number of oocytes harvested during oocyte retrieval and an association between non-fertility stressors and decreased conception. To learn more about the connection between stress and fecundability, or the ability to reproduce, see the article below.
Fertility & Physical Activity and Sleep
As per current research, high intensity physical activity and inadequate sleep may negatively affect one's fertility.
The health benefits of appropriate physical activity are well-known, but intense physical activity may affect ovarian function and impair a woman's fertility. Since a moderate intensity physical activity doesn't have a negative effect on menstrual characteristics, it's believed that a certain level of physical activity may have a positive impact on fertility, but it changes beyond a certain threshold.
There is a potential link between physical activity and sleep as physical activity may improve sleep quality and sleep may promote more physical activity. Gaining an appropriate amount of sleep (about 7-9 hours of sleep per night) is important for reproductive health. Research has shown that inadequate sleep may negatively affect a woman's fertility by leading to cycle irregularity.
Fertility & Acupuncture
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used to treat infertility for thousands of years. Electro-acupuncture can help regulate the menstrual cycle and ovulation and improve the circulation of blood flow to the uterus. Acupuncture can reduce anxiety and help regulate hormonal imbalances. You can read more about acupuncture treatment used for females struggling with infertility in this article.
As per TCM principles, infertility occurs due to disrupted vital balance, blood circulation flow, and blockages in the Qi energy. Using Acupuncture to treat both, male and female infertility shows to improve the sperm quality and ovaries' function and balance the endocrine system and hormones.