Factors that affect pregnancy
What factors affect pregnancy?
Involuntary childlessness is often caused by a combination of different factors. These could include environmental as well as physical causes. During your initial consultation and the subsequent treatments, our doctors will be happy to advise you in detail about these different factors. In addition, we will also explain what you can do to increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Below is an overview of the factors that we know have the greatest effect on pregnancy.
Body weight — being either overweight or underweight can reduce fertility
Being either overweight or underweight can reduce fertility and your chances of becoming pregnant. This applies equally to both men and women. Cellular metabolism causes most of the male sex hormone, testosterone, in the fat cells of the stomach to be converted to the female hormone oestrogen. In women with weight problems, an over- or underproduction of oestrogen leads to an imbalance in the body’s hormone levels thereby reducing fertility. In overweight men, excess testosterone is converted into oestrogen, which affects sperm quality. Being underweight has an equally negative effect on virility. Depending on your starting weight, gaining or losing weight may increase fertility in both sexes. However, this should be done carefully and slowly.
Smoking and pregnancy are a bad combination
High levels of nicotine affect male and female fertility. In women, it impairs ripening of the egg cells and the function of the ovaries. This means it takes much longer to get pregnant with fertility treatment.
Smoking also has a negative effect on the mucous membrane lining of the womb and interferes with implantation of the egg. If you becoming pregnant, the placenta does not work optimally if you smoke. This can affect the baby’s weight/birth weight.
In male smokers, the quantity and quality of sperm cells are significantly lower. This reduces the chances of a sperm cell reaching an egg cell and fertilising it.
Stress confuses the hormones
Regular exercise strengthens the body and increases the chances of becoming pregnant. However, intensive exercise often subjects the body to too much stress. As a result, many women experience a change in their menstrual cycle or their periods stop altogether. This means that it is not possible to accurately determine the days when you are fertile. Lack of sleep and emotional stresses and strains have a similar effect on fertility. This applies to men and women.
Health and diet go hand in hand
Pregnancy is a major strain on and a change for the body. However, the female body is designed to cope with this strain. A healthy body is stronger and more resilient and therefore better prepared for pregnancy. A good diet together with adequate exercise and sleep is the bedrock of good health. Everything that you put into your body through the food you eat is converted and used in a number of metabolic and cell division processes. Read more here about how a healthy diet increases your chances of becoming pregnant.
Diet and fertility
If you want to become pregnant, you should try to eat a healthy and balanced diet. If your body is not getting all the nutrients it requires, this has a major effect on your fertility. If you are eating an unhealthy diet, your fertility level will spontaneously reduce to protect itself from the further strain that a pregnancy would cause.
Folic acid: Important for the formation of hormones
The body needs lots of B vitamins from the diet to produce follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and the female sex hormones, oestrogen or progesterone. Folic acid is one of the B vitamins. Natural folate is found in foods such as green leafy vegetables and eggs. However, its concentration is fairly low, and the vitamins are readily broken down as soon as they come into contact with water. For this reason, the Danish Health Authority recommends that women who are trying to conceive should take artificially produced folic acid even before becoming pregnant. Folic acid is also essential for cell division and after fertilisation supports the all-important first cell division processes in the embryo.
Iodine and iron deficiency
Iodine and iron deficiency are rarely noticed or are not perceived as a deficiency by those affected. However, if you want to become pregnant, a deficiency of these minerals can quickly have an effect on the development of the embryo. Iodine is essential for early childhood development. It is found in foods such as sea salt, fish or fortified cooking salt. Iron deficiency affects your immune system and energy levels. In addition, the mother’s blood volume increases during pregnancy. Iron deficiency is harmful to the health of both the mother and the child.
Five good tips for a healthy diet
Variation: Eat a varied diet. In this way, you can ensure that your body is getting adequate amount of those all-important vitamins and minerals.
Fresh ingredients: Fresh fruit and vegetables contain the highest concentrations of vitamins. Try to avoid processed food as far as possible, and prepare fresh ingredients carefully. Steaming is a good way of retaining nutrients, and it also makes raw vegetables easier to digest.
Plenty of fluids: It is important to drink a lot of fluids—especially if you are trying to become pregnant. Otherwise, your metabolic processes are unable to perform optimally. Water, unsweetened tea or diluted fruit juices are best.
Regular meals: Now is not a good time to go on a diet. If the body is getting new energy at regular intervals, it doesn’t need to work harder to make up for deficiencies.
You can make exceptions: Having a pizza or a few sweets every now and then is perfectly fine and won’t have a major effect on a healthy diet. It is important that these foods remain the exception and that you have a balanced diet otherwise.
If you want to become pregnant, do something positive for your body
Regular exercise: Regular walks and light exercise strengthen your immune system and your body.
Plenty of fluids and a varied diet are essential for a healthy body.
Rest and relaxation: Give your body time to wind down. It is during such times that your body regains the ability to cope with physical