What Can You do to Increase Your Chances of Success in Fertility Treatment?
October 16, 2019
Hello, I’m Dr. Norbert Gleicher. I’m the medical director of the Center for Human Reproduction and it’s chief scientist. I want to talk to you today about an issue that we are very frequently asked about and that is, what can you, as the patient, on your own do to help in your treatment to conceive? And honestly speaking, there’s not very much you can do beyond following the medical advice that you are receiving,whether it’s CHR or at another fertility center. In principle, at least here at CHR, if there was or if there is something you may be able to do, we would obviously tell you. But let me explain a few principles that may help you a little bit along the way. And the first principle relates to the concept of inflammation. Inflammation means not that you have a particular disease. Inflammation in many cases (even though inflammation can be associated with certain diseases mostly autoimmune diseases), but inflammation can also be present on its own. For example, if you are significantly overweight, it is quite likely that you will show elevated inflammatory markers. And you may have elevated inflammatory markers even if you are very skinny, but if you, for example, experience certain allergies or certain intolerance towards foods, that is indeed a very important point. When patients ask me about, “What can I do to help?” my next question to them is usually, “How is your diet? Do you exclude certain foods? Are there certain foods that give you excessive flatus (gas), or cramps, or make you feel unwell? Are you excluding, therefore, certain foods? And if you do, then there is a possibility that you have a sensitivity towards these foods. The most frequent food is obviously gluten or dairy products. Many people don’t tolerate either of these very well. Not tolerating well gluten does not necessarily mean that one suffers from celiac disease (even though that is obviously also a possibility), but gluten sensitivity or sensitivity to other foods can elicit in the bowels an inflammatory response. And that inflammatory response can also lead to what has become kind of a popular word in the lay press, the so-called, “leaky bowel syndrome.” And that can enter into a kind of vicious cycle where one thing increases the other. You eat bad foods, you get inflammation. You get leaky bowel syndrome, leaky bowel syndrome gives you more inflammation, Etc, etc. So if you do have gastrointestinal problems, then we do recommend that you go on an anti-inflammatory diet and that usually means to try to be gluten free, dairy free, and to significantly reduce sugars in your diet. Otherwise, there is very little you can do by taking huge amounts of supplements or changing your life pattern. We indeed usually recommend not to change life habits while in infertility treatments because that just further increases the already elevated stress levels that every infertility patient is exposed to. Sticking to your routine, whether it is your work routine whether it is your exercise routine or any other routine, is usually a much better approach. There are also lots of rumors out there about what one should not do. And most of these rumors have really no data to support them. In other words, there is, in our opinion, nothing wrong with having a glass of red wine once or twice a week. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a cup of coffee or two while you’re getting pregnant. We of course do not want you to use drugs. And we of course greatly prefer it if you don’t smoke. Finally, one more word about supplements. Supplements are medications. They can do what medications do, which is interfere with each other. And indeed, supplements can also interfere with prescription drugs and visa versa. Therefore, the concept that a drug– just because it’s considered the supplement and does not require a prescription– is totally and necessarily innocent and cannot cause problems is not the correct concept. And we therefore do not promote excessive supplement use. If you take a prenatal vitamin, you will be covered from the vitamin point of view perfectly. The only other supplements we in principle recommend , unless there is a defined and proven deficiency of course. The only supplements that CHR usually recommends is in older women and women with low ovarian reserve, the hormone DHEA or testosterone. We prefer DHEA over testosterone and in both female and male infertility, the antioxidant CoQ10. We have excessively in our video collection addressed those medications and therefore here will here not be repeated. Other supplements including additional vitamins to routine prenatal vitamins, which are multivitamins, are really not necessary unless you have a specific deficiency, So if you are, for example, if your vitamin D level is low, then we recommend that you take extra vitamin D. The same applies to other vitamins. But we do not recommend that you, just because you’re trying to get pregnant ,suddenly run around with a big bag full of different supplements. I hope this short advice helps you.