Fertility game changers

Published On: Oct 10 2012 09:30:28 PM EDT
Updated On: Oct 18 2012 10:40:00 PM EDT

A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have, that's two million eggs.  But less than 500 eggs will be released during her reproductive years.  Each month, only one egg matures and is released into the ovary.  No wonder so many women have trouble getting pregnant.  We look at ways to give your eggs the best chance.

Laurie Elpers is the mother of twins, but there was a time when she thought she could never have children..  She and her husband tried everything to get pregnant.  And she says a miscarriage really shook them up.

"25 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage and the risk of miscarriage increases with age," explained Sanjay Agarwal, MD, Director of Fertility Services at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, or the ASRM, a woman is most fertile between ages 20 and 24.  A healthy 30-year-old has a 20 percent chance a month to get pregnant.  By age 35, the quality of eggs begins to decline significantly.

“Women that are over 40 have a one in three chance of miscarriage or 30 percent or more higher chance of pregnancy loss,” said Agarwal.

Experts say pregnancies conceived with older eggs have up to a thousand times higher risk of having chromosomal abnormalities  which can lead to Down Syndrome.

Once you know your risks, do you know the five fertility game changers you can do now to boost your chances of a successful pregnancy?

First, calorie count.  A recent study found it took women twice as long to get pregnant when they had a pre-pregnancy BMI of 25-39.  Foods that help fertility include protein rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs and beans.

Next, cut back on caffeine.  A report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who drank two cups of coffee a day were twice as likely to miscarry than those who didn't drink any.

According to the ASRM, some lubricants can actually decrease fertility.  It recommends using canola oil instead.

And lay off the cigarettes.  Not only do they damage a woman's eggs, but they also cause ovaries to age.  That means the ovaries of a 35-year-old smoker function as if they belong to a 42-year-old. 

As for Laurie Elpers, Agarwal was able to help her with IVF.

“I introduced him to my parents as the man who got me pregnant,” said Elpers.

Another note, if you're trying to get pregnant, Cleveland Clinic researchers add that men should watch where they put their cell phones.  Its study found that sperm exposed to radio frequency waves from cell phones in a man's pocket, were damaged.

Also, women can protect their fertility by using birth control pills.  That's right.  Some doctors believe the pill, which stops ovulation, quiets down the reproductive system and actually protects your ovaries from aging.

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