6 Things Not to miss When Trying to Fall Pregnant

Still trying? Want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row? Wondering if there’s something amiss? The fertility journey can be full of doubts. I remember. I had 3 years of trying with doubts. It can be so tough. Knowing what to try can make it easier. One of the most important parts of my work in fertility, is helping people remove common obstacles to conception. Working out the obstacles that often get overlooked. Even by high profile fertility specialists. Whether you’re trying naturally or via IVF/ IUI, these things are worth checking..

  1. Vitamin D level. Your GP might have said your Vitamin D level is in the normal range (50-100nmol/L). However, studies show that women with Vitamin D levels above 75nmol/L have an increased likelihood of pregnancy and live birth. Interestingly, those in the study who corrected their Vit D levels BEFORE conception were associated with less miscarriages.
    This study found that Vitamin D levels affected IVF success rates. Those with Vit D deficiency were “less likely to develop mature eggs and would produce poor quality embryos.
    Supplementation with vitamin D alone during pregnancy probably reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and the risk of having a baby with low birthweight.

What to do next?
Get tested. Some people need a little extra Vitamin D, some people need a lot.
Sunshine and diet changes are great to help maintain Vitamin D levels, but to boost them rapidly, it’s likely you’ll need a supplement.

Organise a restest in a few months to make sure what you’re doing is working!

2. Luteal Sufficiency means that atleast 12 days passes between ovulation and when your menstrual flow (not spotting) begins. Atlease 12 days between these two events is sufficient for implantation of a fertilised egg. Nothing less. How Do I Know if I’m Ovulating?

Luteal Insufficiency is often overlooked. It is common in women with short cycles but can still happen in 28 day cycles. It can be linked with low progesterone. Which is also often overlooked in people with infertility and recurrent miscarriage.

3. Tubule Patency. This means that your fallopian tubes are open and working properly – not blocked or spasming. A Tubule Patency Test or HyCoSy is done under ultrasound. This test is worth doing if you have not conceived after 12 months of trying (6 months if over 35) AND if you haven’t conceived for 5 years prior. This test can be painful. It is worth taking a painkiller the day of the test. Some clinics advise this but some don’t. Mine didn’t and I wish they had!

4. Sperm Quality.

Here’s a little-known fact; the bar has been progressively lowered on acceptable semen values. Especially morphology (sperm shape). For example:
In 1987, the level for normal morphology was 50%, now it is only at 3%. That is, 97% abnormal sperm shape (2 heads or 2 tails), is considered OK. This is OK for IVF, espcially ICSI where they can select normal sperm. However, if you’re trying naturally, even between IVF/IUI cycles, you can imagine that you’d want higher odds of normal sperm reaching an egg. Most natural fertility specialists say to aim for 10-15% normal morphology.
Morphology is the most significant semen parameter. Research shows that the percent of morphologically normal sperm are significant predictors of time to pregnancy. Even independent of sperm concentration.1
Remember; Semen analysis results can vary from lab to lab. And results can vary from month to month.

And remember; it only takes one sperm to fertilise an egg.

5. Caffeine intake. Unfortunately, caffeine can increase miscarriage risk. Even caffeine intake before pregnancy. Studies indicate that miscarriage risk begins to rise with just one cup of tea or less than half a cup of coffee per day.

Radiation damaging DNA

6. Toxins in our Environment. There are a bunch of toxins in our environment that have been proven to reduce our fertility and increase the chance of miscarriage. Yes, we can’t avoid all of them. Yes, our grandparents did OK without this knowledge. But they didn’t live with the multitude of hormone disrupters (mainly plastics) that we now do. There are a few main offenders. Let’s focus on them. And the simple steps we can take to reduce our exposure ..

Written by:

Elaine Hickman

Dr Elaine Hickman

B.H.Sc.TCM (Acupuncture), Cert.Cl.Ac. (Beijing)

Elaine has trained and worked in various settings, both in Australia and China.  She has over 25 years experience in treating many health problems.  Elaine loves to provide a health care experience for people that is respectful, effective, empowering and enjoyable.  Elaine has particular expertise in Women’s Health, Children’s Health, Family Medicine and Wellness promotion. She brings extra understanding and knowledge to the table having been through infertility herself.

Elaine is available Mondays & Tuesdays at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe, Melbourne or via video chat most other days. Her trusted Associates are available all other weekdays. Click here to book.

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4254491/

Cooper, 2007, (ESHRE campus meeting)

Chen LW, Wu Y, Neelakantan N, Chong MF, Pan A, van Dam RM. Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and risk of pregnancy loss: a categorical and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Public Health Nutr. 2016 May;19(7):1233-44. doi: 10.1017/S1368980015002463. Epub 2015 Sep 2. PMID: 26329421; PMCID: PMC10271029.
Gaskins AJ, Rich-Edwards JW, Williams PL, Toth TL, Missmer SA, Chavarro JE. Pre-pregnancy caffeine and caffeinated beverage intake and risk of spontaneous abortion. Eur J Nutr. 2018 Feb;57(1):107-117. doi: 10.1007/s00394-016-1301-2. Epub 2016 Aug 29. PMID: 27573467; PMCID: PMC5332346.
Association of preconception serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations with livebirth and pregnancy loss: a prospective cohort study

Sunni L Mumford, PhD, Rebecca A Garbose, MD, Keewan Kim, PhD, Kerri Kissell, MD
Daniel L Kuhr, Ukpebo R Omosigho, et al.
Published:May 30, 2018DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(18)30153-0

Palacios C, Kostiuk LK, Peña-Rosas J. Vitamin D supplementation for women during pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD008873. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008873.pub4

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