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INFERTILITY

FOODS THAT HEAL

  • Enriched or fortified breakfast cereals
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Turnip greens
  • Yogurt
  • Legumes
  • Lean meat
  • Fish
  • Orange juice

    FOODS TO LIMIT

  • Coffee and other caffeinated drinks (for women)
  • Alcohol

    WHO’S AFFECTED

  • Between 8
    5 to 15% of North American couples
    Infertility is defined as the inability to achieve a pregnancy after at least 1 year of trying
    Many couples assume that infertility rests with the woman, but men are just as likely to be infertile
    The leading cause of female infertility is the failure to ovulate, which may be influenced by the diet, hormonal imbalances, and other factors
    Both women who are very thin and those who are markedly overweight often do not ovulate because the amount of body fat is closely associated with estrogen levels
    A low sperm count is the major cause of male infertility, and for unknown reasons, men worldwide are producing fewer sperm than a few decades ago
    Some scientists believe certain pesticides, which have estrogen-like effects, may be linked to the declining count
    Alcohol and tobacco use lower sperm production and should be avoided if there is difficulty conceiving
    33% of cases are attributable to the male, 33% to the female
    (The remaining 33 % are either both or the cause can’t be identified
    )

    Nutrition Connection

    While nutrition is not a leading cause of infertility, it’s important for both men and women to consume a healthful diet to enhance the chance of conceiving and delivering a healthy baby
    Eat a balanced diet that’s rich in essential nutrients
    Using oral contraceptives for 5 years or more may cause reduced reserves of vitamins B6, B12, C, and E, as well as calcium, zinc, and other minerals
    Inadequate zinc intake may also lower male fertility
    And even for men who are not deficient, evidence suggests that vitamin B12 (found in all animal products) may improve sperm count and motility
    Eat foods rich in these nutrients—fruits and vegetables for vitamin C; milk and low-fat yogurt for calcium; and fortified breads and cereals, lean meat, poultry, and seafood for the B vitamins as well as iron, zinc, and other minerals
    Eat foods rich in folate or take supplements
    Doctors advise women who are pregnant, or who may become pregnant, to consume lots of folate-rich foods or take folic acid supplements to lessen the risk of having children with neural tube defects such as spina bifida
    Good dietary sources of folate include fortified breakfast cereals, leafy greens, legumes, and orange juice
    Limit alcohol
    Alcohol is known to reduce fertility in both women and men
    Limit coffee
    Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that women who drank more than three cups of coffee a day reduced their chances of conceiving in any given month by 25%
    Go for B12
    Other evidence suggests that vitamin B12 (found in all animal products) may improve sperm count and motility, even in men who are not B12 deficient

    Beyond the Diet

    Treatment of infertility depends on many factors, including ages of both partners, the length of infertility, and personal preferences
    With a little advice and technology, a couple may be able to conceive
    Here are general suggestions and approaches: Avoid smoking
    Smoking reduces fertility in both women and men
    Maintain a healthy weight
    Any woman who is considering becoming pregnant should try to achieve her ideal weight before conception
    Women who are underweight at conception may have anemia during pregnancy, and the baby may be more at risk for health problems
    An overweight woman should diet before trying to conceive; this also lowers her risk of developing high blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy
    Talk to your doctor or see a fertility specialist
    See a doctor to determine the cause of infertility
    Depending on the cause, fertility drugs, assisted reproductive technology, or surgery may be recommended