Excerpt from Chapter Two: Diet and Nutrition
Does a Change in Diet Improve Fertility?
Many women ask whether their diet can play a part in fertility. One might argue that in the most impoverished areas of the third world, malnourished women still conceive and give birth to perfectly normal babies. However, we have to remember that they are also not exposed to the same high levels of toxins as women in western society are, nor do they eat a diet of processed and refined foods, which are often full of fertility-damaging chemicals.
Pollution and toxins to which we are exposed on a daily basis, even in things as seemingly harmless as household cleaning products, body care products and cosmetics, all adversely affect our bodies, depleting us of essential vitamins and minerals, decreasing our fertility and increasing our need for a healthy diet. The older we are, the more years we have had to become exposed to these influences and this has an accumulative effect on our bodies.
Whilst a change in diet alone cannot make you conceive if there is a host of other underlying problems, a healthy diet can definitely improve your chances of conceiving, in addition to aiding other medical conditions that may be preventing you from becoming pregnant.
A surprising number of women minimise their chances of conceiving because they are not ovulating regularly. Introducing more vegetables, grains and fruits into the diet and eliminating animal products laced with hormones will be beneficial. The fibre in plant foods helps to eradicate excess oestrogens from the body. Thus have as much green leafy vegetables as possible, have lots of fruits and cut down on chocolates, sugar, oily food, dairy products and meat.
A healthy diet can correct weight problems and it is well-documented that being severely underweight or overweight can cause difficulties in conceiving.
The Male Factor
Not only is it important for a woman to eat healthily if she is planning to conceive, but her partner should also be giving serious consideration to his lifestyle and what he eats, since nutrition has a direct impact on the quality and quantity of sperm. Smoking and alcohol consumption, for example, can seriously affect the quality of sperm, making conception more difficult. Many people assume that an inability to conceive is the age factor that lies with the woman, but in many cases could be the woman’s partner who has the problem. Please refer to Chapter Twenty: The Male Factor.
Foods to Eat
Basic Dietary Rules to Help Balance the Hormones.........
Excerpt from Chapter Nine: Chemicals, Environment and Fertility
Chemicals in the Environment
It might be surprising to learn that one of today’s major causes of infertility is the diverse range of chemicals to which we are regularly exposed in our environment, particularly those with oestrogenic properties.
Whilst our bodies are designed to excrete waste and toxins from our bodies, which is the function of the liver, lungs, kidneys and skin, we all know that some toxins do accumulate and damage our systems. Exposure to tobacco smoke and alcohol are examples of this, but there are a host of other environmental toxins that have an accumulative effect and create havoc with our health and fertility. This might explain why some older women have problems conceiving, because of the continuous contamination accumulated in body fat up to that point in her lifetime.
Car exhaust fumes are alleged to cause infertility because they excrete a compound known as benzo(a)pyrene (BaP). Studies show that exposure to BaP caused a significant reduction in fertility in animals, with fertility being further reduced when the animals were simultaneously exposed to lead. The results showed that there was approximately a 33% reduction in ovarian weight and a significant reduction in ovarian follicles.
In 2003, a study conducted by scientists from Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada who examined the seminal fluid of infertile men discovered increased quantities of the chemical trichloroethylene (TCE), in the sperm of infertile men. TCE is a degreasing agent, which is not only used in the automotive and metal industries, but which can also be found in paints, paint strippers, varnishes, adhesives, lubricants, pesticides, stain removers and carpet cleaning fluids.
More frighteningly is the news that cosmetic and household products that we use every day can play havoc with our health and contribute to infertility.
Miscarriage and Birth Defects
Since chemical exposure can lower sperm count, the implications are potentially greater than just that of infertility. Studies show that the risk of having a miscarriage or conceiving a child with birth defects increases substantially dramatically when fathers have lower sperm counts.
Another study showed that microelectronics assembly workers showed suffered from a 4-fold increase in miscarriage, because of the women’s exposure to chemical solvents used in cleaning the electronic components. These chemicals included acetone (also used for removing nail polish), trichloroethylene, xylene, petroleum distillates and solder vapours.
Chemicals in Personal Care Products and Cosmetics
Whilst we may not be exposed to some environmental chemicals on a regular basis, there are others to which we are exposed on a regular, daily basis. If you shower, shave, wash your hair, brush your teeth, use deodorant, perfume, body lotion, moisturiser and makeup each day, then you are probably exposing yourself to over 100 chemical ingredients. Some of these chemicals have the ability to penetrate the skin and infiltrate the blood stream and can cause a range of health problems, including infertility.
Some Widely Used Chemicals..........
Excerpt from Chapter Nineteen: The Male Factor
How Common is Male Infertility?
Until recently, 40% of couple infertility was due to the male, 40% was due to the female and the remaining 20% was due to joint problems. However, new studies suggest that fertility is becoming more of a man’s than a woman’s problem and that the above percentage for men has risen.
This might come as a welcome surprise to some women who have automatically had the finger pointed at them when they experience fertility problems, with their age being cited as the prime cause of the problem.
Over the last 50 years, sperm counts have fallen from an average of 113 million sperm per ml to between 66 and 76 million per ml and it is continuing to fall. Not only has semen volume dropped from an average of 3.4 ml to 2.75 ml, sperm motility has also decreased. Over the last couple of decades, the number of men with low sperm counts has tripled and those with reduced sperm motility increased from 21 per cent to an incredible 43 per cent, which is almost half of the male population.
Researchers have also found that the number of abnormal sperm – for example, sperm with either two heads or two tails, or sperm clumped together - has multiplied dramatically. It is not uncommon find up to 40 per cent of abnormal sperm in a routine semen analysis.
Sperm are particularly vulnerable to environmental hazards and it might be surprising to some men to learn that even in the healthiest male under the best conditions, only 50 to 70 percent of sperm are viable enough to fertilise an egg.
Causes of Male Infertility
There are numerous causes of infertility in men, including:
• Obstructive problems; a blockage in the sperm-carrying tubes can be caused by trauma to the scrotum, groin surgery, infection (such as STDs) or a previous vasectomy/reversal
• Testicular injury and disease
• Varicocele (a varicose vein in the spermatic cord that leads from the testicles to the abdomen, which can occur in either testicle but 85% of cases occur in the left testicle. The impaired circulation of blood means that the blood does not cool as it would normally. This raises the temperature of the testes, which can damage sperm and impede production of new, healthy sperm.
• Sperm disorders; low sperm count, quality and motility
• Genetic disorders
• Hormonal problems; testosterone deficiency or an excess of testosterone can both cause infertility, as can an overproduction of prolactin, a hormone produced by the pituitary gland
• General medical disorders that reduce fertility e.g. viruses, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, paralysis, cancer
• Drugs that reduce fertility e.g. alcohol, tobacco, penicillin, cancer drugs, anabolic steroids, recreational drugs such as Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin
• Environmental toxins and radiation
Vitamins and Supplements for Male Fertility........
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