I want another one
Producing a sibling for your little one is often taken for granted particularly if you have conceived relatively easily first time around. Increasingly, parents are finding that it’s not always plain sailing. Secondary infertility is the term given to parents struggling to conceive a subsequent baby and it is on the rise.
Secondary infertility is now more common than primary infertility and with a proven track record of child bearing, many parents delay seeking medical advice. Even after medical investigation, the cause is usually “unexplained secondary infertility”. One of the key reasons for this may simply be that women are tending to leave starting a family until later in life. Fertility declines sharply after the age of 35. Stress and exhaustion (conditions many new parents are all too familiar with) may also play a part.
Very few sleep deprived parents think about conceiving during the first year after their baby is born. The Office of National Statistics suggests the average age gap between children is 2 years 9 months. Producing a baby takes a good deal of nutrients and, as any parent knows, is emotionally and physically demanding. A study at the University of Surrey showed how much of an impact good diet, nutritional support and lifestyle changes can have for couples struggling to conceive. A staggering 86% out of 204 so-called infertile couples aged 34 to 45 produced healthy babies after undertaking healthy changes to diet and lifestyle.
I am not suggesting parents rush into trying for a second or subsequent child but it is a good idea to support your body throughout the “waiting” time thereby maximising your chances of conceiving in the future. This is particularly important if it took you six months or more to conceive in the past.
Top tips for boosting fertility
Eat a healthy diet
Skipping meals and eating on the go can be all too common for busy parents, but as the University of Surrey study showed, it is important to eat a balanced diet. Avoid food additives where possible and eat unprocessed foods along with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Minimising caffeine and alcohol will also help. An animal study showed caffeine to reduce muscle activity in the fallopian tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the womb.
Take a supplement
Our food tends to be less nutrient-dense than it used to be. For both prospective parents, taking a good quality broad spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement can provide an insurance policy for fertility.
Increase intake of Essential fats
Our diets today typically contain too much omega 6 and not enough omega 3. Omega 3 essential fats found in oily fish, walnuts, flax seeds are known to support the endocrine (hormone) system. Studies have shown that they are also have numerous health benefits for babies development.
Check your thyroid function
Thyroid function can decline as we age and an underactive thyroid can affect fertility. Even pregnancy itself can have an impact on the thyroid so it’s worth getting it checked by your GP. A simple test using a digital thermometer to take your body temperature on waking daily will not only show whether you are ovulating, but if it is lower than 37 degrees Celcius, may also indicate your thyroid is under functioning long before blood tests show this to be the case. On ovulation, your temperature rises by 0.2 degrees this shift happens up to five days before ovulation or two days afterwards.
Adrenaline inhibits progesterone which is needed to conceive and maintain pregnancy. It can affect male and female fertility. Cortisol inhibits one of the body’s main sex hormone gonadotropin releasing hormones which can not only reduce sex drive but suppresses ovulation and sperm count. Yoga, massage and reflexology are all beneficial for relaxation and improving fertility.
The world of secondary infertility is a private world of grief and anguish. As one mother put it to me “You feel guilty because you know you know you should be grateful for what you have got but also guilty for not being able to provide a playmate for your child”. The NHS recommends that if you are over 35 you should seek help after just six months. I believe parents should consider all options including complementary therapies such as acupuncture and reflexology but most importantly Nutritional Therapy. All of these treatments are safe to use alongside medical intervention and assisted conception.
Lorna is a practising Nutritional Therapist with over 13 years’ experience of infertility. She boasts a success rate of around 90% in helping parents with problems such as PCOS, endometriosis, recurrent miscarriage and unexplained primary and secondary infertility.