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Health & Wellness Part 2: Nutrition, Exercise & Fertility

Infertility is a complex issue, and it needs to be addressed on many levels simultaneously. To ensure ultimate results, Dr. Andrew Levi of Park Avenue Fertility focuses on his patients’ health in addition to medically treating infertility. He believes that every aspect of a patient’s life needs to be examined and, if necessary, adjusted, in order to achieve success in treatment.Today we would like to focus on the relationship between wellness and infertility. So, why don’t we start with a very important issue: the role of alcohol.

Did you know that excessive alcohol intake can wreak havoc in the human body and affect the healthy levels of hormones? Let’s look at the most common side effects.

In women, excessive alcohol intake may lead to problems on several levels. Through hormonal changes, it can compromise a healthy menstrual cycle and delay or completely stop the ovulation, which then makes conception virtually impossible. Additionally, alcohol in high levels can cause unhealthy changes in endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus, which in turn can lower the chances of conception. Excessive binging can also lead to alcohol-related liver diseases. Some of the severe consequences of excessive alcohol intake in females are:

• Miscarriage

• Impaired fetal development

• Stillbirth

• Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which may include irreversible mental and physical retardation, behavioral problems, physical disfigurements

Like women, men may also develop alcohol-related liver diseases and hormonal imbalances. An effect of excessive alcohol can hinder the formation of healthy sperm. Alcohol may also destroy sperm-generating cells, increase the size of testicles and cause the sperm to develop an abnormal shape. Another common side effect is erectile dysfunction.

Clearly, it’s hard to overestimate the dangers of excessive alcohol intake when it comes to fertility. That’s why it is crucial to be moderate with alcohol or stick to an alcohol free lifestyle long before conception (ideally, for a year) and throughout fertility treatment. Women should also abstain from alcohol during pregnancy and even after giving birth, if they are planning to breastfeed, to avoid contaminating their breast milk.

In our fast-paced world, caffeine seems to hold a very important place, helping us keep up with the challenges of life. But it can also mean trouble, because it constricts the blood vessels. That can theoretically translate into a reduced blood flow to the uterus, which will lower the chances of conception. That’s why it is advisable to reduce or eliminate the caffeine consumption, especially if you are considering IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) and some other fertility treatments. Higher levels of caffeine intake have also been associated with an increased rate of miscarriage.

How about food?
When it comes to food, think healthy:

• Eat more fruits and veggies, which are a great source of vitamins, microelements and enzymes. When possible, consider buying organic.

• Cut back on simple carbs, like white bread, white rice, sweets etc., as they have been linked to fertility problems. It is a good idea to replace them with whole grains.

• Make sure your diet contains antioxidants. Along with the vitamins and phytonutrients, they are a natural protection from harmful effect of the environment.

• Take Omega-3 fatty acid supplements or eat sea food products that are rich in this nutrient. However, stay away from certain types of fish that contain high levels of mercury. Avoid tuna (including canned), frozen swordfish, tilefish king mackerel, orange roughy, shark and marlin. Opt for shrimp, salmon and catfish, mullet, sardines and other low-mercury fish. You can also replace fish with flaxseed, which is a great source of Omega-3.

• Iron is crucial for a healthy menstrual cycle as well as for fetal development. Lack of iron may also result in postpartum anemia. So, ladies should consult their doctor on how much of this supplement they should take.

• Zinc and selenium are very important for future fathers, they facilitate sperm production. As healthy sperm takes up to three months to develop, it’s a good idea to begin taking those supplements a few months before planned conception.

It’s very important to work with a knowledgeable fertility specialist, in order to make your diet “fertility-friendly”. Dr. Andrew Levi has an extensive experience in successfully treating various infertility cases. After running a series of tests and blood work, he will give you personalized suggestions on how to optimize your diet. While discussing healthy nutrition, we need to mention that any imbalanced diets aimed at unreasonable weight loss should be avoided. It’s important to keep a variety in your diet, as your body needs to maintain healthy levels of all necessary nutrients.

We all know that physical fitness is very important for overall health, so exercising is a great way to stay healthy. Lack of exercise, especially if the future mother is obese, may seriously contribute to infertility. However there is a caveat: strenuous or excessive workouts can actually make a woman infertile. It is not advisable to exercise for more than seven hours per week. For those women preparing to undergo IVF, more than four hours of week may jeopardize the success of the procedure. Too much exercise or strenuous sorts can change the hormonal composition, which may hinder the ovulation. Some good forms of exercise include yoga or other low-impact activities. Women should also be aware that having less than 10% of body fat is linked to fertility problems.

You can discuss all of the above topics and any other infertility issues with Dr. Andrew Levi in one of our Park Avenue Fertility offices conveniently located in Fairfield and Trumbull, CT. Call our offices today to schedule your one-on-one consultation. Dr. Levi and everyone at Park Avenue Fertility wish you a happy healthy new year, and remind you that moderation and good self-care are keys to staying healthy!