Research is emerging into the importance of preconception care as well as antenatal care, as what happens in the first nine months in utero will influence the child for the rest of their life.
As a practitioner, I am passionate about assisting couples ensure they have optimum nutrition as well as low levels of oxidative stress and inflammation in their body in order to create optimal health in their offspring.
Unfortunately, with today’s fast paced living and the western diet, so many couples present lacking in essential phyto-nutrients and minerals that are important for optimal fertility.
As a result, we are seeing higher levels of autoimmune disease, behavioural problems and allergies presenting in our children. I also strongly believe both parents need to be in optimal shape in order to enjoy the emergence of their bundle of joy, in order to be prepared for the increased physical demands and sleep deprivation that occurs in the early days.
Whilst it may seem like the onus of preconception responsibility falls heavily on the women, men too need to embark on a preconception care plan in order to ensure that the sperm that fertilizes the egg is in optimal condition. The sperm are delivering one of the most important messages to the future offspring, the gift of 23 chromosomes. This genetic material impacts the child for the rest of its life. Critical to my care-plan, is therefore ensuring the developing sperm are taken great care of.
Sperm are actually quite delicate contrary to what men may believe. As their plasma membranes contain large amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids and their cytoplasm contains low concentrations of scavenging enzymes, they are susceptible to oxidative damage, rendering them less capable of successful fertilization. Small amounts of antioxidants are required for optimal sperm.
As sperm production takes around 72 days, men need to work on optimizing sperm health at least two and a half to three months prior to conception.
Infertility has become a major health issue and a cause of great distress for many couples. The number of infertile women has tripled during the last thirty years, with one in six couples now infertile. One in five women will have a miscarriage, one baby in ten is born prematurely and one in every thirty children born will have a congenital defect. Numerous studies have proven that preconception care significantly improves pregnancy outcomes with increased fertility rates and decreased rates of miscarriage, premature birth, peri-natal death and foetal malformations.
As many as one third of infertile couples can find no medical cause for their infertility. A diagnosis of “unexplained infertility” can be as distressing for couples as finding a cause for the infertility. Couples experiencing unexplained infertility have many options available to them to increase their chances of conceiving a baby. According to Recent Australian perinatal statistics 1:6 couples have fertility problems requiring medical assistance to conceive. Australian fertile rates have halved in the past forty five years and tripled in the USA. The use of Artificial Reproductive Services (ART) has increased by 77% in 12 years.
When natural conception is delayed or there is a diagnosis of “unexplained infertility” many couples search for alternative methods, including IVF frequently these treatments take a long time, creating stress and frustration leaving many women fearful of needles and other invasive procedures.
Fortunately there are many ways to enhance your chances of conceiving even whilst participating in IVF treatment. We encourage couples experiencing difficulties, to consider pre-conceptual care and thus become more informed about the choices with regards to conception of a healthy child. It is about ensuring that both parents are experiencing optimal health, giving them the best chance of creating the best environment for the developing embryo/foetus to grow in. This is best achieved by analysis and investigation of health status of the couple and thereby minimizing risk factors in prospective parents.
Benefits of Pre-conception care are as follows:
- Achieving a balance in the reproductive systems of both male and female ensuring long term health benefits.
- Natural hormone balancing to ensure healthy ovaries – regulates ovulation.
- Infections and blockages cleared within reproductive organs-using reflexology and nutritional detox.
- Improve quality and motility of sperm and sperm counts.