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  • "Eeyore" started this thread
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Thursday, May 10th 2007, 12:52pm


We all know that, during our menstrual cycle, our body tends to crave certain foods, typically fatty, salty and/or sweet. For most, the association between diet and the reproductive system stops here. Yet, food and your diet are intricately linked to your reproductive system. What you eat, or fail to eat, can increase or decrease your chances of getting pregnant, worsen your PMS symptoms and possibly even disrupt your menstrual cycle.

The Role of Hormones in PMS

Every month during ovulation, the pituitary gland in the brain signals the ovaries to produce the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. These hormones help to prepare the uterus in case of a pregnancy. If there is no pregnancy, the hormone levels decrease and menstruation occurs. This increase in hormones helps to explain all the mysterious symptoms of PMS, including craving junk food and fat.
Unfortunately, though, eating all that junk food can actually make your PMS symptoms worse. Not to say that you shouldn’t give in once in awhile. But it is important to make the right food choices, particularly when you have PMS, as eating healthy can help to beat those typical PMS symptoms, like fatigue and bloating. But reaching for the crisps more often than those carrots can do more than worsen PMS.

You Are What you Eat (or Don’t Eat)
By eating a high-fat diet or starving yourself, you may be putting yourself at risk of developing some serious medical conditions, like amenorrhea (the absence of a period). According to British researchers, if you do not eat a healthy, nutritious diet with all the essential vitamins and minerals, your hormones levels can be seriously altered. Some theorise that an imbalanced diet actually causes deficiencies that lead to PMS.

Here are some basic dietary guidelines for you to follow during your period to help control your PMS and for better overall health:

• Be sure to get enough calcium. Women need at least 1,200mg of calcium every day. Some good sources of calcium include low-fat milk, yogurt, broccoli and salmon.
• If you do not drink milk, you can increase your calcium intake with soy or rice milk, tofu or kale. Look for fermented soy products as certain soy products contain phytoestrogens, which can mimic the natural estrogen found in your body, leading to reproductive health difficulties. Your fertility is significantly compromised if you have too much or too little estrogen in your body.
• Eat more complex carbohydrates. If you are hungry, try eating whole grain breads, fresh fruits and vegetables.
• Keep well hydrated. Women lose up to 80 millitres of blood during a regular period, so you need to keep drinking water to replace your body’s loss of fluid.
• Increase magnesium in your diet. Foods rich in magnesium, like beans, tofu and peanuts, are thought to reduce bloating in menstruating women. Women should strive for 200mg per day.
• Reach for the vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps to eliminate some PMS symptoms as well as aiding the circulatory system. Women need 8mg a day. Food with lots of vitamin E include avocado, egg yolk and liver.
• Eat foods rich in vitamin B6, which aids in the metabolism of proteins and red blood cells and has been cited in numerous studies to relieve depression. Some vitamin B6 rich foods are potatoes, bananas and oatmeal. Women should try to get 100mg a day.
• Make sure to get vitamin C and zinc, as these support the health of a woman’s eggs and reproductive system.

Dieting is Not the Way to Go

If you’re looking to lose weight, you may think that going on a crash diet will help you lose a lot of weight quickly. In fact, what you end up achieving is poor metabolism, gaining more weight, suffering from nutrition deficiency, damaging bodily organs and increasing your risk of osteoporosis. This is because severe restriction of calories leads to a lower metabolism as your body has a difficult time performing on low calorie intake. If you continue these poor eating habits over the long term, you will put on much more weight with fewer calories. As for your reproductive system, having too little bodily fat, caused by extreme dieting, can put a halt to your periods.
Failing to consume proper nutrients and vitamins such as iron, vitamin B12, sodium and potassium, can lead to some serious health issues. The electrolytes in sodium and potassium play an important role in the operation of your heart, muscles and nerves. If you deprive yourself of these electrolytes, you could have a heart attack.

Extreme nutrition deprivation, such as anorexia, can set you up for major health problems down the road. Without treatment, people with eating disorders are more likely to suffer a heart attack, infertility, osteoporosis, amenorrhea, damage to the esophagus, teeth, and stomach lining, and kidney failure among other complications.

What Foods to Limit for a Healthy Reproductive Cycle
So just what should you be getting less of? Here are some things that you should try to cut back on:

• Decrease your sugar intake. Refined sugar, the kind found in cakes, chocolate and baked goods, not only make you gain weight but can disrupt your body’s blood sugar levels. They will initially give you energy but later on you will suffer from an abrupt crash, and even more fatigue.
• Cut down on caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, chocolate and fizzy drinks, causes heightened anxiety and leads to sleep disruption. Caffeine also contributes to decreased female and male infertility.
• Do not smoke. Smoking wreaks havoc on your health. Although smoking is unhealthy for both men and women, it does particular damage to a woman’s body. • Smoking can disrupt the female menstrual cycle, causing a woman to lose her period and develop menopause earlier. A female smoker decreases her fertility by 25%, has more wrinkles, diminishes the density of her bones, and increases her risk of heart attack or stroke (especially if she is over 35 and on birth control). The 4000 chemicals present in cigarette smoke weaken your sense of touch and smell, increases the risk of gum and heart disease, various types of cancer, ulcers and blindness.
• Avoid alcohol, which is a depressant, and often makes PMS symptoms worse.
• Alcohol decreases your chances of becoming pregnant by 50%. Men that drink too much reduce the number and quality of their sperm.
• Be vigilant against the pesticides and environmental contaminants that may be found on fruits, vegetables and water. Rinse all produce thoroughly to avoid xenoestrogens, estrogens that are present in environmental chemicals and other contaminants. Xenoestrogens can cause imbalanced hormones. Know where your water is coming from and what chemicals are present in it.
• Do not consume large amounts of artificial sweetener. Although there has been a great deal of debate, studies have found that artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, may be linked to cancer and weight gain.

Get Yourself Moving!
You are equipped with all the information you need about nutrition and diet, now all you have to do is get up and move! Daily activity is an indispensable tool for good health. Exercise is not only fun and a great way to socialize, it is also an excellent way to strengthen your fertility and reproductive health. Regular exercise (as in being active at least three times a week) is essential to regulating your hormonal levels and increasing your metabolism, which will contribute to maintaining a healthy weight.

You should combine cardiovascular exercise, like walking or swimming, with weight training to see the best results. Getting a cardio workout will help get your blood pumping throughout your body, including your reproductive system, while weight training will aid your body in getting stronger and being more capable of carrying a pregnancy.

But before you get too carried away with your new fitness routine, keep in mind that excess exercise can actually have the opposite affect on your fertility. If you lose too much weight and your body fat dips below 22%, there is a good chance your periods and ovulation cycle will stop. While many women want to be lean, it’s important to remember that having some body fat is healthy and necessary to keep your body running.

On the other hand, having too much body fat can also be problematic, as fat cells produce estrogen. If you have too many fat cells, there’s a good change you’ll have too much estrogen floating around in your system. This can also negatively impact your reproductive system and menstrual cycles. By adopting a fitness routine and following a healthy diet that suits your lifestyle, though, you can help regulate your hormones and keep everything running smoothly.

If you are new to exercise, you might want to get involved with a group activity or join a casual sports club. Try out some fitness classes or ask a friend to join you for a daily walk. Working out with a partner is a great way to stay interested and motivated in exercise. Better yet, ask your partner to workout with you. Not only can you both get in better shape and motivate each other, but you can also both improve your fertility health.



  • "Eeyore" started this thread
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Tuesday, January 29th 2008, 6:52am


We all have heard about the negative health effects of being overweight. This also is true for men and women when it comes to their fertility.

How to Know if You Are Overweight
Doctors use a calculation called a Body Mass Index (BMI) to quantify your weight categorically.

The BMI is figured by taking your body weight in kilograms and dividing it by your height in meters squared.

• BMI 19-25 = Healthy
• BMI 26-29 = Overweight
• BMI 30-39 = Obese
• BMI 40+ = Extremely Obese

Women who are classified as overweight, obese or extremely obese all have lower pregnancy rates in general, for a variety of reasons, and this can lead to issues with infertility. It should also be noted that polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a disorder that can impact fertility, is commonly associated with being overweight or obese.

It is important to note that a BMI that is too low (under 18 ) also can have fertility complications. Lower BMIs are associated with irregular or no menstrual cycles and problems with ovulation.

When it comes to fertility and infertility, studies have shown that a BMI higher than 32 for women is associated with lower conception rates when using assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). There is also a higher cycle cancellation rate in obese women. This is why reproductive endocrinologists often advise patients with higher BMIs to consider losing weight before undergoing fertility treatments.

There are other potential problems for women who are obese (BMI 30-39). Not only do they have higher complication rates in pregnancy, but the actual egg retrieval is more dangerous. As can be seen in the ultrasound images below, when a woman is significantly overweight, the ovaries are usually pushed up "high" - away from the top of the vagina by the extra fatty tissue that is in the pelvis. At the time of IVF, the needle is pushed in vaginally to reach the eggs in the ovaries. If the ovaries are too high, a needle can not be safely inserted into the follicles to get the eggs out.

Another problem is that the ultrasound images become very "fuzzy" from the extra tissue between the probe and the ovary. Therefore, it is often difficult to clearly visualize the ovaries and the egg-containing follicles. This is shown below - the ovary in the image on the right is very fuzzy and indistinct. This makes it difficult to properly measure the follicles in the ovaries, and can also make it hard to be sure where the needle tip is located at all times during the egg retrieval procedure (a potential safety issue).

IVF egg aspiration in progress. This woman has a normal body mass index (BMI of 24). Ovary circled in blue. Red line is top of vagina. Area between red and blue lines is tissue at top of vagina. Needle (at right side of image along white dots) is passed through the top of vagina to get the eggs out of the ovary. The ovary is "low" - on top of the vagina - where we want it for a safe, effective egg retrieval..

This woman is obese with a body mass index is 37. In her case, eggs can't be retrieved saely. Right ovary circled in blue. Red line is top of vagina. Area between red and blue lines is tissue at the top of the vagina, as well as fatty tissue and possibly bowel. Slicing through this tissue with the needle to get to the ovary (and eggs) is not safe. A complication could occur from damaging bowel, blood vessels, etc. The ovary here is "high" - well above the top of the vagina

Many articles report that obesity has a significant negative impact on the out come of pregnancy and the offspring. Obese women who become pregnant have an increased risk of hypertension; pregnancy related diabetes, urinary infections Caesarian sections and assisted delivery. In addition, the miscarriage rate was reported to be much higher in overweight women. Other studies have shown an increased incidence of Down’s syndrome in the children born from overweight mothers

Bottom line:
If you are overweight (BMI over about 28 ) and having trouble getting pregnant, try to lose weight. If you have irregular menstrual cycles (anovulation, or irregular ovulation) and you are overweight, weight loss could make your cycle regular - thereby making you more fertile.

If you are obese (BMI of 30 or higher) and need IVF, you might have a significantly improved chance for success if you reduce your weight before going through the procedure.

It has been shown that obesity is associated with a longer duration of treatment, increased dosage of medication, and an increased risk of treatment cancellation due to poor response. Studies have also shown that pregnancy rates are approximately 30 percent lower in obese women undergoing IVF compared to women of normal weight. It has been proposed that the IVF is less successful for several reasons. Some of these include impaired absorption of medication due to increased fat stores, limited ability to visualize ovaries during ultrasound monitoring, and more challenging egg retrieval.

Moreover, once pregnancy occurs, obese women have a higher rate of pregnancy loss. In fact, studies show they have up to a two-fold higher risk of miscarriage compared to normal weight women. It is not clear why this occurs. Nonetheless, weight loss can dramatically decrease the risk of miscarriage.



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Wednesday, March 5th 2008, 7:34pm

While there may be an additional struggle to 'get' pregnant if you are overweight, if you 'do' get pregnant there is also a higher risk of miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, complications in labour, stillbirth and dirth defects in overweight women. Research by the CEMACH Maternal Death Enquiry showed that 35% of women who died in childbirth had were obese, along with this, 30% of Mothers who had a stillbirth or neonatal death were obese.

If you are obese (BMI over 30), you are likely to...

Find it much harder to get pregnant
Be at a higher risk of miscarriage
Be at a higher risk of having complications in labour
Be at a higher risk of stillbirth
Be at a higher risk of having a child with birth defects
Be more likely to spend an average of five days longer in hospital than a person with a healthy BMI[/list]

A very important factor in Maternal obesity is that if a woman was overweight before she became pregnant, her child is up to three times more likely to be overweight by the age of seven than a child whose mother was not overweight or obese. The more obese a woman was before she became pregnant, the greater the risk that her child would be overweight or obese