Factors affecting pregnancy in Tucson

Women who are trying to conceive often question about their fertility and whether they can improve it. Although certain things are not in one’s control — for instance, medical issues that affect female fertility, your lifestyle choices can enhance or decrease your chances to have a healthy pregnancy. Dr. Scot Hutchison shares some of the factors that have an adverse effect on women with regards to their chances of conception. One of the prime factors that can have a bad influence on a woman’s fertility is smoking. Smoking causes your ovaries to age rapidly and diminishes your eggs prematurely. Besides that, alcohol consumption can also result in ovulation disorders. Dr. Scot also stresses upon maintaining a healthy weight as being overweight or essentially underweight can influence hormone generation and hinder normal ovulation. A bit of exercise along with acupuncture is advisable as it can provide relief from stress and stress-related disorders in women, thereby, boosting their chances of conception.

Dr. Scot Hutchison

Many of our patients ask, how does lifestyle affect fertility and the answer is I think we’ve got a lot better idea over about the last ten years of how some things affect fertility. Some things are still little bit unclear, but we know that for example, smoking is very very bad for fertility. We know the women who smoke, for the most past, decrease their chances of pregnancy per month by about fifty percent. They also increase the risk of tubal pregnancy significantly and of miscarriage significantly. And of course, if they continue to smoke through pregnancy then they increase the risk of cerebral palsy in babies and preterm birth and all kinds of other bad things. So, smoking is clearly a bad lifestyle choice. Another factor that may interfere with conception is alcohol usage and we don’t really have a very clear idea about how much alcohol use will decrease fertility to what point, but overall looks like its probably detrimental. Umm, excess alcohol consumption can cause all kinds of problems with babies, serious problems in babies, in pregnancy and we’ve known that for a long time. But it looks as though alcohol usage at all will delay the chance of conception. So, the women who are drinking alcohol tend to conceive later than those who do not. So, good general recommendation is for patients not to drink alcohol. As far as caffeine usage, we think it’s probably better for patients not to use caffeine. As a general rule, the caffeine is a very powerful phosphodiesterase inhibitor. It keeps enzyme systems within cells working longer than they should, which is why it tends to keep you awake. But, overall it may throw off some of the metabolism of early embryos and may not be a good thing for them. So, lower caffeine or no caffeine is probably far better than drinking a lot of coffee or tea during the day. Stress, we think is a big factor as well but it’s hard to quantify and most of our patients when they have been trying to get pregnant and they haven’t been able to, by the time they get to us, are fairly stressed, so, as a general rule. So, it’s hard to know how much effect that makes, but, we know that women who are going through fertility therapy have a very similar stress levels to women who are going through cancer chemotherapy. And so that probably translates to a less favorable time for conception, because as a general rule, humans haven’t been able to have really good fertility when stress levels are very very high. Probably because you didn’t want to have the burden of a pregnancy or the nutritional demands of a pregnancy during times of stress or famine. So, controlling stress we think is very important and I think that’s where daily exercise of half an hour to an hour, moderate activity a day is a good thing for almost all of our patients. We would very much like them to have normal body mass as well because we know that if you have too much body mass or if you’re too thin, then your fertility falls off. And for the patients who’re too thin, again, we think it’s more of a stress effect and the body is interpreting that as a nutritional deficiency. For the patients who are too heavy, we think that the necessary higher insulin levels to control blood sugar are probably detrimental for early embryonic development. Another thing that we think is helpful beyond exercise for stress is participation in programs where you can kind of learn to modify your own stress and improve that overtime. And then, also, acupuncture may be very very helpful. So, as a general rule now, we are recommending that, when that anytime patients are going through more stressful therapies such as In Vitro, that they consider going through both, say a mind body program and acupuncture program to help mitigate some of that.

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