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The Skinny On Fertility

Struggling to get pregnant? Maybe it’s high time you consider ovary-acting

Sometimes it’s hard to fathom how hard it is to conceive. After all, thanks to the repeated warnings in our teenage years, we’ve developed this preconception notion that getting pregnant is easy as pie. So it’s understandable that many women have misconceptions about their own fertility and tend to overestimate their chances of pregnancy.

When you look at the science, it’s clear that time is not on our side. Women are born with a finite number of potential eggs, and by the time we reach puberty, our ovarian reserve is already depleted to less than half of what we originally had. Sounds far-fetched, but it’s an inescapable fact of reproductive biology. Even then, the state of your ovaries is largely dependent on hormonal, environmental, and lifestyle factors. With all our eggs in one basket, you can see why it’s extremely important to look after them.

“A woman’s fertility and reproductive health are largely dependent on the state of her ovaries,” says Dr Fong Yang, Fertility Specialist of Virtus Fertility Centre. “Women struggling to conceive are likely to have poor egg conditions, and will need to pay closer attention to the various factors that can improve egg health for a viable pregnancy.”

Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine

Getting your body baby-ready starts by making the effort to enhance the health of your ovaries through eating and living right. While there’s no way to stop your biological clock from ticking, your lifestyle habits are still well within your control. With eggs developing and maturing every month, you can actively improve their quality by implementing a healthy regime and improving your overall health. “If you keep a generally healthy lifestyle, chances are, your reproductive system will be healthy too,” says Dr Fong.

One of the most basic things we neglect to do is drink enough water. Too often we underestimate the power of good ol’ H2O. Consuming eight glasses of pure, unadulterated water a day keeps your body nutritionally balanced, which in turn ensures the health of your eggs. Staying hydrated aids fertility by helping to create a conducive environment in the uterus for an embryo to be implanted. It is also a crucial component in the production of cervical mucus, which helps the sperm travel to meet the egg for fertilisation.

Your diet plays a crucial part in your fertility. As recommended by Virtus Fertility Centre, women who are trying to conceive should consume a nutrient-rich diet with adequate vitamin A, D and omega-3. Vitamin A, which can be found in foods like eggs, milk, spinach, pumpkin and carrots, is needed to help kick-start the cell division process in the production of eggs. Although vitamin A is important, it can be toxic in high doses, so be sure to consume the aforementioned foods in moderation. To regulate the levels of the Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH), be sure to include foods containing Vitamin D, like mushrooms, cheese, and fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon in your diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that play a key role in membrane fluidity and cell health to protect against oxidative damage. Sources of omega-3 include salmon, mackerel, walnuts, and soybeans. In addition to these, supplementing your diet with antioxidant-rich foods can help improve egg and ovarian health. Antioxidants protect cells from free radicals and ensure that they are not damaged for a healthy conception. If you happen to be vegetarian, do not be swayed by those who think that vegetarian diets are lacking in nutrients. Dr Fong ensures that this notion is completely false. “As long as you ensure that you have a well-balanced diet with vegetarian or vegan products, you can easily obtain nutrients that are beneficial for ovarian health.”

If you enjoy the occasional glass of wine on a Friday evening, you might want to reconsider the habit. According to Dr Yang, the consumption of alcohol by both men and women can affect fertility. “Even consuming alcohol in moderation can reduce a woman’s chances of conceiving,” he says.

However, Dr Fong does cut coffee-lovers some slack, sympathising that it may be difficult to go cold turkey. “While it may be difficult for someone to cut out caffeine completely, it should be taken in moderation. Women should limit their consumption to no more than two cups of coffee a day.”