If you know you need to use IVF and surrogacy to create your family, you may feel that the health and wellbeing of your developing baby is out of your hands. What difference does it make what you eat, how you live, what stress you live with? It may come as a surprise that it can make a significant difference, and it is definitely worth paying attention to your own health and wellbeing as you roll towards the day of your big contribution.
In the Short Term
Poor sperm health has been linked to a wide variety of issues such as poor implantation and an increased risk of early miscarriage. Implantation is the process through which the embryo burrows down into the womb and starts to lay down the roots of the placenta which will then be used to provide nourishment and waste-removal for the developing baby. The DNA of the sperm has a strong influence on the way the placenta develops through the implantation process, and this in turn can have influence on how secure the developing foetus is in early pregnancy.
Research data shows that there seems to be a direct link between a high BMI and both poor implantation and higher rates of miscarriage. If you are carrying excess weight, make a concerted effort to reduce your BMI prior to launching into IVF as it will improve your chances of success.
In the Longer Term
The long-term health and wellness of the potential child can also be influenced by sperm health. Lower quality sperm has been linked to higher rates of heart disease, blood pressure and other life-long health issues for your offspring..
Can Sperm Health Be Improved?
In the vast majority of cases, YES!
Sperm take about 9 weeks to develop, so anything you do, everything you eat and any major stress you are under in the 9 weeks prior to IVF can have an impact on the sperm that are taken into the lab. It can make a huge difference to sperm health if you follow these basic guidelines in the 3 months prior to IVF:
Clean up your diet – eat a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables, each different colour brings in a different range of antioxidants which help to improve the environment in which the sperm are developing.
If you are smoking, stop. If you are vaping, stop. If you are partaking in recreational drugs, stop. You don’t have to stop forever, but try to stop for the 2-3 months prior to IVF. All these things can have a seriously negative impact on the integrity of the DNA within the developing sperm, and have a negative impact on the pregnancy and the health of any child.
If you drink alcohol, reduce this to 4 units a week or less – any more has been shown to have a negative impact on the safety of early pregnancy because it can damage the DNA of the sperm.
Start to snack on nuts and seeds – a single brazil nut contains your daily Selenium requirement for the manufacture of healthy sperm!
Put effort into reducing your stress levels, find ways to relax, laugh and rest. It will improve the quality of your sperm.
Keep your mobile phone out of your front pockets, keep your laptop on a table, not on your lap for hours. This regular, long-term exposure to low level radio signals is thought to be counter-productive for healthy sperm development.
Get your Vitamin D level checked - vitamin D is essential for healthy sperm development.
Fertility Acupuncture – research shows that regular acupuncture can improve sperm test results, in many cases it may lift a low score result into a good score result.
But What About ICSI?
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a lab procedure that involves removing the DNA from a selected sperm and injecting it directly into the egg. This process means that sperm does not need to be super-healthy in order to create an embryo – which is great if you really need ICSI, but this artificial selection means that the best sperm is not necessarily the one that gets used to create the embryo so if you can avoid ICSI it may be better in the long term. If you have had a test result that indicates you may need to use ICSI, it is possible to improve the situation so you don’t need to use ICSI when it comes to it. You can do this by making some of the changes outlined above, and having regular fertility acupuncture.
Action Plan . . .
Put these positive changes into action for the health of the pregnancy and the long-term health of the child. It is quite possible to improve sperm quality, and definitely worth it!
For those who find there are not enough hours in the day, I am able to offer 40 minute appointments right in the heart of Moorgate . . .