Nutrition plays a significant role in your reproductive health. Being over or underweight can cause difficulty conceiving. It can also affect the health of your baby. At Houston Fertility Center in Houston, TX, Dr. Sonja Kristiansen can refer you to a registered dietician who can provide you with necessary fertility nutrition information to help you become pregnant and experience a healthy pregnancy.
How Weight Impacts Fertility
Obesity can cause hormonal imbalances, leading to issues with ovulation and fertility. It is also closely associated with PCOS, one of the most common causes of infertility. Women who are obese are more likely to give birth to babies who will become overweight children and adults, increasing the risk for a number of health problems.
Nutrition has a direct influence on a woman’s reproductive health and overall wellbeing.
Being underweight – or having a body-mass index (BMI) under 18.5 – can also result in hormonal imbalances. This can have a negative impact on ovulation and the ability to conceive. It is not uncommon for underweight women to take more than 12 months to become pregnant.
Nutrition and Reproductive Health
Nutrition has a direct influence on a woman’s reproductive health and overall wellbeing. Her lifestyle habits can also have a direct impact on her family. If a woman becomes pregnant while at a healthy weight, she can decrease the chances of developing lifelong chronic diseases, and pass that benefit on to her baby. Overweight women who enter pregnancy not only put their babies at a greater risk of obesity, they also increase their own chances of developing diabetes or postpartum depression.
Recommended Nutritional Guidelines for Women
It is important to prepare for the demands of pregnancy by adopting a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet consisting of:
- Grains: Whole wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, barley, cereal
- Vegetables: Leafy greens, beans, peas, and a variety of red and orange vegetables
- Fruits: Any fruit that is fresh, canned, frozen, dried, or pureed
- Dairy: Low-fat or fat-free milk, cottage cheese, yogurt
- Protein: Lean beef, poultry, fish, beans, seeds, peas, nuts
It is also important to consume essential vitamins and minerals, including:
- Folic Acid: This vitamin reduces the risk of certain birth defects, including spina bifida. Folic acid can be found in certain leafy greens, nuts, citrus fruits, whole grains, and other foods.
- Calcium: Women who are considering pregnancy should consume at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, which is equivalent to three eight-ounce glasses of milk. Other sources include salmon, sardines, rice, cheese, and yogurt.
- Iron: Many women are iron-deficient due to dietary habits and menstruation. It is important to incorporate plenty of iron in your diet, especially if you are considering pregnancy. Iron can be found in a variety of lean meats, fish, leafy greens, legumes, and whole grains.
- Vitamins and Supplements: Most doctors will recommend that you take daily supplements to help you obtain all the nutrients required for pregnancy. Dr. Sonja Kristiansen can help you determine which supplements and vitamins will be most beneficial for you.
Recommended Nutritional Guidelines for Men
It is also important for men to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. In fact, about one-third of all infertility cases are attributed to male infertility alone. It is recommended that men:
- Eliminate Prescription Medications: Some medications are known to affect male fertility, such as steroids. Discuss your medication list with your doctor to see if your prescriptions can be changed or discontinued.
- Increase Your Zinc Intake: Foods rich in zinc can increase your fertility. These foods include meat, whole grains, seafood, eggs, and mushrooms.
- Consider Male Fertility Supplements: Pre-natal vitamins are not just for women. Consider taking male fertility supplements to improve your overall reproductive health.
- Prevent and Treat Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Protect yourself and your partner from STDs by undergoing a screening. Consequences can be serious if a woman contracts an STD while she is pregnant.
Learn More about Nutrition and Fertility
If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, it is important to eat a balanced diet and practice a healthy lifestyle. To learn more about proper nutritional before and during pregnancy, contact us online or call one of our office locations.