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Fertility in women

Consuming certain foods and avoiding certain others can improve a woman’s chances of ovulation. Do remember to include full-fat dairy foods, plant proteins and fiber-rich foods in your diet, and to avoid transfats, excessive caffeine and diet drinks to increase your chances of pregnancy.

Complex carbohydrates: Your body digests bad carbs (like white bread, white rice, cookies and cakes ) quickly, and converts them into blood sugar. The pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream to compensate for this spike in blood sugar.

On the other hand, when eating fiber-rich foods ( like fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains ) the good carbs are digested slowly and hence have a more gradual effect on blood sugar and insulin. Research studies indicate that high insulin levels can hamper ovulation.

Unsaturated fats: Try to eat more healthy unsaturated fats and avoid all trans fats. Trans fats (found mainly in baked foods, snacks, animal products, french fries and margarines) increase insulin resistance. Insulin is critical in moving glucose from the bloodstream to the cells. When the system develops resistance to insulin, moving glucose to the cells become difficult. High insulin levels cause metabolic disturbances that can affect ovulation.

Plant proteins: Include more protein into your diet from beans, nuts, seeds and tofu (gelatinous substance obtained from soyabean curd). They come with healthy fats, proteins, calcium and can be helpful for weight loss.

Whole Milk: Each day, consume one or two servings of whole milk or other full-fat dairy foods, like yoghurt and less of low-fat dairy products. Studies indicate that a woman who has more low-fat dairy products in her diet has less chances of getting pregnant. Alternatively, full-fat dairy products gives her more chances of getting pregnant.

Multivitamins: It is ideal to take a daily multivitamin that contains at least 400 micrograms of folic acid and 40 – 80 milligrams of iron.

Caffeine: Drinking coffee or tea in moderation does not fetch ovulation problems, but excessive caffeine or sugary drinks is to be avoided.

Mind your BMI: Try to keep your BMI (body mass index) in control. Being too thin (less than 18.5) or being overweight (BMI of 25 or more) can affect your fertility and your baby’s health.

Exercise daily: Make it a point to exercise your body for around 30 to 60 minutes daily during pregnancy. This would help in weight management and be beneficial for your overall health.

Fertility in men

A man’s fertility generally relies on the quantity and quality of his sperm. If the number of sperm a man ejaculates is low or if the sperms are of poor quality, it will be difficult, and sometimes impossible, for him to cause a pregnancy.

The common causes of infertility in men are classified as : (1) Sperm production problems (2) Blockage of sperm movement (3) Sexual problems ( erection and ejaculation) (4) Hormonal problems and (5) sperm antibodies.

About two-thirds of infertile men have a problem in producing sperm in their testes. Sperm transportation problems are also found in about one in every five infertile men, including men who have had a vasectomy, but now wish to have more children. Blockages in the tubes leading sperm away from the testes to the penis can also cause a complete lack of sperm in the ejaculated semen.

One in 100 infertile couples faces sexual problems like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation which can affect semen from entering the woman’s vagina and prevent fertilization.

One in 100 infertile men suffer from low levels of hormones produced in the pituitary gland, which in turn act on the testes. In rare cases ( one in 16 infertile men), sperm antibodies are found to reduce fertility.

There are limited possibilities in preventing infertility due to genetic factors. On the other hand, men facing other infertility issues can boost their fertility by adhering to the following things.

  • Avoiding sexually transmitted diseases
  • Avoiding illicit drugs
  • Avoiding radiation when possible
  • Avoiding exposure to toxic substances
  • Avoiding heavy or frequent use of alcohol
  • Observing good personal hygiene and health practices
  • Avoiding long, hot baths, hot tubs or saunas
  • Wearing loose-fitting underwear

Intake of foods like pomegranates, tomatoes, walnuts, lentils, pumpkin seeds, water and dark chocolate can improve fertility and sperm count in men.



Healthy eating

In order to boost your fertility, one can plan a diet as per the ‘food pyramid’ illustrated below. Preference should be given to food shown in the lower half of the pyramid while those at the upper half of the pyramid should be taken in controlled measures. Click on the food pyramid for an enlarged view.

food pyramid for fertility
food pyramid for fertility

Missionary is the best

Having sex in a position that keeps the sperm inside the vagina for as long as possible can increase the chances of getting pregnant. The missionary (man on top) position will get the sperm closest to where it’s supposed to be, at the top of the vagina. “The vagina naturally tilts toward the back, so lying on the back allows the semen to pool in the proper location,” says a leading fertility expert. Putting your knees up accentuates this position, and placing your feet on the wall with your hips on a small pillow would be ideal. The longer the seminal fluid is kept near the cervix, the more sperm will be in the proper location.




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