Pre-Conception Health

Preconception fertility health focuses on the steps individuals and couples can take to improve their chances of conceiving and ensuring a healthy pregnancy.

This proactive approach involves assessing and enhancing both partners’ reproductive health before attempting to conceive. It encompasses a wide range of strategies, from lifestyle modifications to medical interventions, aimed at optimising fertility and reducing the risk of complications. Here’s a comprehensive overview, including strategies to improve preconception fertility health and relevant statistical information.

Understanding Preconception Fertility Health

Preconception health is critical because it affects not only the ability to conceive but also the health of the pregnancy and the child.

Factors that influence fertility include age, lifestyle, medical history, and environmental exposures. By addressing these factors before conception, couples can improve their fertility outcomes.

Strategies for Improving Preconception Fertility Health

Lifestyle Modifications

  • Diet and Nutrition: A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can improve fertility. For women, folic acid supplements are recommended to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being underweight or overweight can affect fertility by disrupting hormonal balance. A body mass index (BMI) within the 18.5–24.9 range is ideal, but there is so much more to it then BMI alone.
  • Exercise: Regular, moderate exercise can boost fertility, but excessive exercise may have the opposite effect, especially in women.
  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: High levels of caffeine and alcohol consumption are linked to reduced fertility.
    Quit Smoking: Smoking negatively affects fertility in both men and women and increases the risk of pregnancy complications.

Medical and Health Considerations

  • Manage Chronic Conditions: Conditions like diabetes, thyroid disorders, and hypertension should be well-controlled before trying to conceive.
  • Sexual Health: Both partners should be screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which can affect fertility.
  • Medications: Review all medications with a healthcare provider, as some may impair fertility.

Environmental Factors

  • Minimise Exposure to Toxins: Certain chemicals and environmental pollutants can affect fertility. Reducing exposure to pesticides, heavy metals, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals is advisable.

Statistical Information on Fertility & Preconception Health

  • Age and Fertility: Women’s fertility begins to decline gradually at age 35 and more rapidly after age 38. Men also experience a decline in fertility, although it typically begins later and is more gradual.
  • Weight and Fertility: Obesity is linked to ovulatory dysfunction and reduced semen quality. Approximately 12% of infertility cases may be due to weight issues.
  • Smoking: Smoking is associated with a 60% increased risk of infertility in women and affect sperm quality in men.
  • Alcohol and Caffeine: High alcohol intake is associated with a decreased likelihood of conception. While moderate caffeine consumption (1-2 cups of coffee per day) is generally considered safe, higher amounts may be linked to fertility issues.

Preconception Care

Preconception care is a critical aspect of reproductive healthcare that involves assessing and addressing medical, behavioural, and social risks to a woman’s health or pregnancy outcome through prevention and management. Key components include:

  • Fertility Assessment: Evaluating both partners’ fertility through medical history, physical examination, and specific tests.
  • Genetic Screening: Screening for genetic diseases that could affect offspring is recommended for individuals with a family history of genetic disorders or specific ethnic backgrounds prone to certain genetic conditions.

Preconception fertility health is an integral part of family planning that can significantly impact the ability to conceive and the success of a pregnancy. By adopting healthy lifestyle practices, managing medical conditions, and seeking preconception care, individuals and couples can improve their chances of achieving and maintaining a healthy pregnancy. It is essential to start these conversations early and involve healthcare professionals who can provide personalised advice and support throughout the preconception period.

Get in touch with our friendly team.

Dr Genia Rozen is a Melbourne gynaecologist and fertility specialist with 10+ years of experience dedicated to fertility medicine.

She holds a Masters of Reproductive Medicine (MRMED) degree and undertook three years of sub-specialising training in Fertility and Reproductive Medicine at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. She is affiliated with Genea Fertility who are recognised leaders in advanced reproductive laboratory services.

Please get in touch if you have a question or wish to book an appointment.