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For about 20 percent of couples, there's no obvious reason why it's taking so long to conceive. The lesson: "Blood type serves only as an alert -- it's not a risk factor," stresses Lubna Pal, MD, the study's senior author and a researcher in reproductive endocrinology, who doesn't want healthy women to worry needlessly.
For prospective dads, the usual fertility workup (sperm count, volume, concentration, motility and morphology) doesn't reveal the whole picture, says Sheena Lewis, a professor of reproductive medicine at Queen's University Belfast. The lesson: Consult with your doctor about a test such as the comet assay, which, Lewis says, measures the amount of DNA damage in individual sperm. In the winter, couples who live near the Arctic Circle don't conceive as often as usual -- and it's not because they don't have sex in the nearly-round-the-clock dark, report scientists at Austria's University of Graz. The lesson: We're exposed to many sources of BPA throughout the day -- and levels constantly rise and fall with exposure, Hauser says. Unfortunately, other hormone-altering chemicals -- PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and similar pollutants -- linger in the body, says Germaine Louis Buck, PhD, at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The lesson: Louis Buck says the best thing to do is to limit exposure by cutting away the fat from meat or fish (how to prepare fish to reduce PCBs) and eat fewer animal products overall. Among some researchers, there’s a concern that electromagnetic radiation (EMR) may scramble a man's sperm, with the cell phone being a primary offender. The lesson: Research is ongoing, but to be safe, keep laptops and cell phones away from privates. Doctors believe that the number of eggs you have at birth determines the length of time you will remain fertile.
Click here to find out the sex positions that are great at increasing your chances of getting pregnant. For those with type O who have been struggling to conceive, she says, the best thing to do with this information is to weigh it with other factors known to reduce fertility. Problem is, those tests don't detect sperm DNA damage, which Lewis and her colleagues pegged as the major culprit behind "idiopathic infertility" (when doctors have no clue why you're not pregnant yet).
The slowdown may happen because they're deficient in vitamin D, which the body synthesizes from sunlight. But because it can be hard to get enough from the winter sun or from food, the Endocrine Practice Guidelines Committee recommends a moderate 1500–2000?IU daily supplement.
Keep your daily load as low as possible and find BPA-free alternatives to those water bottles, cans…and, yes, that pocket rocket. Regardless of diet or exposure, a delay doesn't mean doom: About 80 percent of the couples conceived within a year of trying.
Keep up the regimen when you're pregnant; that same bacteria-triggered inflammation is associated with miscarriage, low birth rate and premature birth. Several studies found a connection between sperm damage and the habit of carrying a cell phone in a pocket or hip belt, near the reproductive organs. Your fertility is mostly determined by genetics, which influences how many eggs you are born with. But a study at Yale University School of Medicine got our attention when it found that, among female fertility patients in their 30s, those with type O were twice as likely as other blood types to have a hormone profile that made their ovaries seem older than their age.
For instance, if you also smoke or your mother reached menopause at an early age, this finding might prompt you to adopt a healthier lifestyle and to talk to your doctor sooner than you might otherwise. In their study, a striking 80 percent of cases with that diagnosis were resolved after testing for sperm DNA damage.
Traces of PCBs are nearly everywhere, but a major source is animal fat, where toxins can accumulate. Periodontal (gum) disease delays a positive pregnancy test by two months or more, found an Australian study. Another study targeted that other indispensable EMR-emitting tool: the WiFi-enabled laptop computer.
For every egg ovulated during your reproductive life, about 1,000 eggs undergo programmed cell death.
Or otherwise have contact with -- and absorb too much of—things that contain the estrogen-mimicking plastic-softening chemical BPA (Bisphenol A). While women with healthy mouths took an average of five months to conceive, those who had periodontal disease took a little over seven months. Compared to non-users, men who used laptops on their laps—for four hours with WiFi on -- had 25 percent immobile sperm (vs.
Other things, such as smoking cigarettes and certain types of chemotherapy, can accelerate egg cell death and promote an earlier menopause. Vitamin D-deficient rats have elevated FSH levels, take much longer to conceive, and more often miscarry.
In one investigation that took place at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center, patients with the highest BPA levels produced 24 percent fewer eggs than average; of those eggs, 27 percent fewer could be fertilized, and fewer embryos implanted. And in IVF studies, low vitamin D is a predictor of failure, while sufficient levels are associated with a four-times higher success rate. In another study, scientists exposed immature eggs to BPA; the higher the dose, the likelier those eggs were to degenerate or, oddly, act as if they were fertilized even though they weren't. Swollen gums and deep pockets around the teeth breed bacteria, which enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammation -- potentially reducing an embryo's chances of implantation. The good news is that our bodies metabolize BPA rapidly, explains study author Russ Hauser, MD, MPH, ScD, a professor at Harvard School of Public Health.
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