WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Cer­tain con­di­tions and de­fi­cien­cies can also in­flu­ence your re­pro­duc­tive health. Not all the re­search is con­clu­sive but do take ev­ery­thing into ac­count when you are try­ing to con­ceive

Women's Weekly (Malaysia) - - INSPIRE -

PCOS

PCOS is a hor­monal con­di­tion that af­fects one in five women of child­bear­ing age. The two main hor­mones in­volved are in­sulin and testos­terone. When pro­duced in higher lev­els than nor­mal, th­ese hor­mones may lead to symp­toms such as: Ir­reg­u­lar pe­ri­ods

Ex­cess hair growth on face, stom­ach and back

Acne or pim­ples

Easy weight gain

Dif­fi­culty get­ting preg­nant In­creased risk of di­a­betes In­creased risk fac­tors for heart dis­ease Anx­i­ety or de­pres­sion Not all women with PCOS will have all th­ese symp­toms as the con­di­tion can vary be­tween women and symp­toms change with age.

On a pos­i­tive note, most women with PCOS are able to con­ceive, but may take a lit­tle longer to get preg­nant.

Symp­toms can be re­duced by eat­ing well, ex­er­cis­ing reg­u­larly and gen­er­ally stay­ing healthy. Visit Jean Hailes for Women’s Health at jean­hailes.org.au for prac­ti­cal ad­vice on di­ag­no­sis and man­age­ment of PCOS.

SEX­U­ALLY TRANS­MIT­TED IN­FEC­TIONS STIS

STIs like gon­or­rhea and chlamy­dia can af­fect the fer­til­ity of both women and men. Be­fore start­ing a fam­ily, both of you should get tested to min­imise the risk of pass­ing it on to your child. Safe sex is the best pro­tec­tion.

CHLAMY­DIA

Chlamy­dia is a very com­mon bac­te­rial in­fec­tion. It af­fects fer­til­ity be­cause of in­flam­ma­tion of the ure­thra and/or the cervix. Left un­treated, the in­fec­tion can travel to the uterus, fal­lop­ian tubes and ovaries. When the in­fec­tion moves to th­ese ar­eas, it is re­ferred to as pelvic in­flam­ma­tory dis­ease (PID).

PID may form scar tis­sue and ad­he­sions, which can re­sult in chronic pelvic pain, ec­topic preg­nancy and fer­til­ity prob­lems. About 75 per­cent of women and 25 per­cent of men will not ex­pe­ri­ence symp­toms. If symp­toms do oc­cur, they in­clude: Pelvic pain

Painful and heavy pe­ri­ods ” Deep pain with vagi­nal sex Bleed­ing be­tween pe­ri­ods or af­ter hav­ing sex Fre­quent and burn­ing uri­na­tion Un­usual vagi­nal dis­charge

VI­TA­MIN D

Do you have PCOS-re­lated in­fer­til­ity and con­sid­er­ing fer­til­ity treat­ment? Re­sults of a 2017 study from the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia showed that women who were vi­ta­min-D de­fi­cient when start­ing fer­til­ity treat­ments were 40 per­cent less likely to achieve a preg­nancy. Your doc­tor can check your vi­ta­min D lev­els with a blood test and rec­om­mend sup­ple­men­ta­tion.

REAL LIFE HAPPY END­ING

“I am 175cm and was 118kg when I first tried to get preg­nant. It just was not hap­pen­ing so I de­cided to see a fer­til­ity spe­cial­ist. She told me my hor­mones were fine, that my weight was most likely the prob­lem, and that los­ing just five to 10 per­cent of my body weight was proven to help. I also had to work on los­ing weight in case we ended up hav­ing to try IVF be­cause the clinic would not do it un­less my BMI was un­der 30. I lost 18kg and ended up be­com­ing preg­nant nat­u­rally.”

PCOS is a hor­monal con­di­tion that af­fects one in five women

GON­OR­RHEA

Gon­or­rhea is a bac­te­rial in­fec­tion that usu­ally af­fects the gen­i­tal area, although the throat or anus may also be af­fected. It is trans­mit­ted dur­ing vagi­nal in­ter­course, but can also be trans­mit­ted dur­ing anal or oral sex. Of­ten, there are no symp­toms, but it some­times causes: Un­usual vagi­nal dis­charge Pain while uri­nat­ing

Like chlamy­dia, if left un­treated, gon­or­rhea can lead to PID, which in turn can cause in­fer­til­ity.

DI­A­BETES

Di­a­betes is as­so­ci­ated with lower rates of fer­til­ity but many women with di­a­betes have been able to con­ceive, par­tic­u­larly if glu­cose lev­els are well con­trolled and you main­tain a healthy body weight. It is a good idea to see your doc­tor for a re­view at least three to six months be­fore you plan to con­ceive.

MED­I­CA­TIONS

If you are plan­ning to get preg­nant, it is im­por­tant to talk to your doc­tor about pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion or any over-the-counter med­i­ca­tion to make sure that they are safe to take while you are try­ing to con­ceive and dur­ing preg­nancy it­self. In the same vein, speak to your doc­tor be­fore stop­ping any med­i­ca­tion.

TAK­ING THE PILL?

If, like many women, you use an oral con­tra­cep­tive, do not be too con­cerned if you have trou­ble get­ting preg­nant right af­ter you stop tak­ing it. Dan­ish re­searches have found that once you go off the pill, it can take be­tween two to six months to con­ceive.

GE­NET­ICS

Fer­til­ity can be af­fected by a range of ge­netic ab­nor­mal­i­ties. The Malaysian Ge­nomics Re­search Cen­tre pro­vides com­pre­hen­sive in­for­ma­tion. Visit www.mgrc. com.my/ge­netic-screen­ingser­vices/dtect/. The most com­mon ge­netic cause of in­fer­til­ity in women is Turner Syn­drome.

CAN­CER TREAT­MENT

Can­cer and its treat­ments af­fect your abil­ity to have chil­dren. Most chemo­ther­apy drugs can dam­age your eggs. This de­pends on your age, the types of drugs you are tak­ing and their dosage, mak­ing it hard to pre­dict how the chemo­ther­apy will af­fect your fer­til­ity. Ra­di­a­tion treat­ments use high-en­ergy rays to kill can­cer cells, which can dam­age your ovaries.

Talk to your doc­tor, nurse, or an­other mem­ber of your health­care team about fer­til­ity be­fore treat­ment when pos­si­ble. There might be ways to save or pro­tect your fer­til­ity be­fore and maybe even dur­ing treat­ment.

For more in­for­ma­tion about can­cer and fer­til­ity, visit the Can­cer Re­search Malaysia web­site at www. can­cer­re­search.my.

EN­VI­RON­MEN­TAL TOX­INS

En­vi­ron­men­tal tox­ins known as en­docrine dis­rup­tors are chem­i­cals that in­ter­fere with your hor­mones and may af­fect fer­til­ity.

Some ex­am­ples are BPA (bisphe­nol-A), PCB (poly­chlo­ri­nated biphenyls), and ph­tha­lates. They can be found in plas­tic drink bot­tles, food con­tain­ers and cos­met­ics (hair prod­ucts, makeup and per­fume).

Th­ese chem­i­cals may also be found in house­hold prod­ucts (sur­face clean­ers and dis­in­fec­tants).

It can be chal­leng­ing to avoid ev­ery­day chem­i­cals en­tirely but you can re­duce your ex­po­sure by drink­ing out of glass bot­tles as of­ten as pos­si­ble, mi­crowav­ing your food in ce­ramic plates and bowls in­stead of plas­tic, read­ing the la­bels care­fully on prod­ucts and wash­ing your fruit and veg­eta­bles with wa­ter that has a bit of vine­gar added to it.

THY­ROID DYS­FUNC­TION

New re­search sug­gests that even mild thy­roid dys­func­tion – when your thy­roid is func­tion­ing at the low end of the nor­mal range – may con­trib­ute to un­ex­plained in­fer­til­ity. The study found women who have un­ex­plained in­fer­til­ity were nearly twice as likely to have higher lev­els of thy­roid-stim­u­lat­ing hor­mone (TSH) than women with nor­mal lev­els. El­e­vated TSH lev­els can be a sign of an un­der­ac­tive thy­roid.

NAT­U­RAL FER­TIL­ITY BOOST­ERS

Tar­get­ing your health from dif­fer­ent an­gles can help with fer­til­ity is­sues. There are nat­u­ral ther­a­pies you can try. Some help lower stress to boost fer­til­ity while oth­ers ap­pear to have a di­rect ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect on re­pro­duc­tive health. Which­ever you choose to try, check with your GP first.

ACUPUNC­TURE

Acupunc­ture has been a treat­ment for in­fer­til­ity and men­strual dis­or­ders through­out his­tory of Chi­nese medicine. Th­ese are some of the main re­search ar­eas for acupunc­ture as well as their fer­til­ity-boost­ing ef­fects:

IVF

In some stud­ies, there were no ben­e­fits to hav­ing acupunc­ture, whereas in other stud­ies, women were more likely to be­come preg­nant if given acupunc­ture while un­der­go­ing fer­til­ity treat­ment.

Qual­ity of sperm:

When men were given acupunc­ture ev­ery fort­night for two months, more sperm was pro­duced.

PCOS

In one study, when women had acupunc­ture and Chi­nese herbal medicine along­side a fer­til­ity drug like Clo­mid, they were more likely to con­ceive. In an­other study, women who had acupunc­ture ovu­lated more of­ten, com­pared with those who just had phys­i­cal ther­apy ses­sions.

Stress

Stress is known to neg­a­tively im­pact re­pro­duc­tion and stud­ies shows acupunc­ture low­ers anx­i­ety and stress.

Ovu­la­tion

Re­peated acupunc­ture has been shown to stim­u­late the re­turn of ovu­la­tion with­out ad­verse side ef­fects.

En­dometrio­sis

Acupunc­ture has been shown to be ef­fec­tive in women with en­dometrio­sis-in­duced in­fer­til­ity.

SLEEP

Your re­pro­duc­tive sys­tem is on a cy­cle linked to your cir­ca­dian rhythm, so get­ting lots of sleep is im­por­tant. If get­ting to sleep or stay­ing asleep is a prob­lem, visit sleep­health­foun­da­tion.org.au. for tips on how to sleep bet­ter.

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