Do you fall into the trap of believing your chances for conception begin the moment you and your partner agree to start trying? Some fertility factors, like poor ovarian function, low sperm count and other conditions that contribute to infertility are genetic and “come along with your personal package.” Others such as lifestyle choices, diet, exercise and general well-being can affect your chances of fertility months or even years before you actually start trying.
Start Checking the Boxes on RRC’s Preconception Preparation List
For that reason, we’ve put together this Preconception Preparation List that can help you see where you are on your own fertility path. It’s a great opportunity to evaluate how you’re doing, to fill in any gaps or to point you in the right direction if a change or two needs to be made. As always, you can contact RRC if you have questions, concerns, or if you feel you and your partner may be battling infertility issues.
Ideally, you will want to get going on this checklist at least one full year before trying to conceive.
Review Your Health Insurance Policy. What kind of maternity coverage or reimbursements does your current health insurance policy provide? If you are 35-years or older, you may also want to review whether or not your health insurance policy covers any portion of potential fertility treatments. Once you have those facts and figures, begin shopping around. You may find that spending just a few dollars more per month will be returned multi-fold in terms of improved coverage that adds up to thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars depending on your future needs.
Eliminate toxins from your diet and your world. Wow! We can’t write enough about how common chemicals, hormones and additives in food production and in the ingredients’ lists for household chemicals and health/beauty products can negatively impact fertility. Start doing your homework and cleanse your life – and thereby your body – of as many harmful chemicals as you can. Not only will you boost your chances of fertility, you’ll be creating a healthier environment for your future baby.
Find an OB/GYN you really love. When you aren’t trying to have a baby, a “ok” OB/GYN can be tolerable because researching and interviewing new ones can feel like an unnecessary inconvenience. All that changes, however, when you are ready to have a baby. Now, that same OB/GYN who you visit annually will be in your life on a monthly basis throughout your pregnancy. And, if all goes well, she will be the one who helps you bring your baby into the world. Now is the time to find an OB that you can connect with. If you have a condition, like endometriosis, that may create fertility road blocks, or if you are an older mama-to-be, look for OB/GYNs that have positive relationships with fertility clinics in your area. RRC is happy to provide referrals if you need them.
Stop hormonal birth control. If you are currently taking a birth control pill or using another form of hormonal birth control, we recommend going off it for at least three full months (using other means of birth control such as condoms, a diaphragm, etc. in the meantime) before trying to conceive. This allows your body a chance to rid itself of synthetic hormones and get back to its natural hormonal rhythm and balance again. For women who have used birth control for an extended period of time, be prepared for irregular periods until your cycle regulates, mood swings, tender breasts and other symptoms that go along with a normal, healthy menstrual cycle.
Check your vaccination schedule. Odds are, if you were born in the United States or attended the U.S. public school system, you were vaccinated as a child. However, some of those vaccines expire. Examples include chicken pox and tetanus. Catching the chicken pox can cause severe disabilities and/or the miscarriage of an unborn baby and some vaccinations contain live viruses, which aren’t recommended while you are pregnant. If you want to be up to date on your vaccines, bring your vaccination schedule to your doctor and see if there are any gaps or refreshers that should be done prior to conceiving.
Lose extra weight. By “extra weight” we are not talking about that extra 5 to 10 pounds that drives you crazy. We’re talking about the extra 20, 50 or however many pounds are pushing you over the healthy BMI figures for your age, gender and body type. Obesity and extra pounds are linked to infertility in both men and women, so use the year(s) before you try conceiving to develop a healthy diet and exercise program, both of which will help you lose unwanted weight and will get you in good shape to boot.
Visit the dentist and ask about your wisdom teeth. Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy often lead to sensitive and tender gums, and can increase bleeding in your gums as well. Pair these factors with the reality that X-Rays aren’t ideal while pregnant and the more you can do to be proactive about your dental health the better.
Pro-Active Fertility Testing. In some cases, it’s a good idea to get fertility tests done ahead of time. Examples include:
- You or your partner are over 35. Why waste time if there is something you should know ahead of time? Some basic fertility tests and/or semen analysis are worth it if the results save you from “six months to a year” of trying – – only to find out you’ll have a hard time conceiving on your own anyway.
- You have suspicions. Was your husband’s brother or father diagnosed with low sperm count? Did your partner ever have a cancer treatment or take a medication that has been linked to infertility? Did you have a time in your life when you had frequent unprotected sex – – but it never resulted in a pregnancy? These are all significant causes for “suspicion,” that it may be better to get tested now.
- You have infertility-related conditions. Do you have a condition that is linked to infertility, like PCOS, endometriosis or low ovarian reserves? Have you had trouble with hormonal imbalance, thyroid issues, diabetes or other diseases or conditions that can affect fertility? If so, fertility tests may be a good idea sooner rather than later.
If you’ve checked all the boxes on our Preconception Preparation Checklist, odds are you’ll be conceiving a baby in the very near future. If not, fill in the gaps and start making appointments. If you feel fertility testing or a consultation with a fertility specialist is in order, go ahead and schedule a consultation here at RRC.
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RRC has over 200 years of combined experience. As a leading reproductive health, infertility, and in-vitro fertilization (or IVF) center based in Kansas City, we're proud to have the highest level of expertise available to our patients.