Let's Make it Your Year - Wk 2: Pre-pregnancy health & lifestyle tips | Melbourne IVF

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Let's Make it Your Year - Wk 2: Pre-pregnancy health & lifestyle tips


Dear Subscriber

It’s a common misconception that if you are fit and healthy then you must be fertile. In fact, a woman's age is the single most important factor impacting fertility. Having said that, your health and lifestyle are still important factors to consider and there might be improvements you could make to boost your fertility and overall health.

Dr Lyndon Hale, Medical Director
Melbourne IVF

Health & lifestyle tips 

For women

  • Stop smoking and recreational drugs. Smoking can have a detrimental effect on your fertility and affect the quality of your eggs and increase the chance of pregnancy loss and birth defects.
  • Optimise your weight for a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) . Studies have shown that it is more difficult to conceive when your BMI is greater than 25 as well as increased risk of problems during pregnancy and miscarriage.
  • Take folic acid for 3 months prior to conception, and continue for the first trimester. Studies show that folic acid reduces the risk of neural defects such as spina bifida.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine intake . Avoid binging. 1or 2 cups of coffee a day and 2 or 3 glasses of wine a week is fine. In fact, many of us find a glass or two quite helpful in the bedroom!
  • Consider taking vitamin supplements, dependent on your individual circumstance.

For men

  • Quit smoking and the use of recreational or body-building drugs. There is good evidence linking cigarette smoking to increases in sperm DNA fragmentation and some drugs can decrease sperm density and motility, and increase the number of abnormal sperm.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation and avoid binge drinking where possible. There is no evidence that safe alcohol intake will have any effect on sperm quality but just as an alcohol intake above a safe limit can affect a man’s general health, it will also affect his fertility.
  • Ensure your Body Mass Index (BMI) is within a healthy range . Overweight men have been shown to exhibit higher levels of DNA damage and poorer IVF outcomes. There are therefore strong motivations for men to take on the difficult job of trying to lose weight.
  • Stay out of the heat. The testicles hang outside of the body because the optimum temperature for sperm production is a few degrees cooler at around 36°C. Men working in hot temperatures, or who enjoy relaxing in the sauna or hot baths frequently increase the likelihood of an  abnormal sperm profile. When trying to conceive men should avoid taking long hot baths and frequent exposure to hot temperatures.

Complementary Therapies

Many people use complementary and alternative therapies to improve their physical and emotional health and some women consider using these therapies to prepare their body for pregnancy. These often include acupuncture, naturopathy and Chinese herbalists. While there is limited scientific evidence to prove the benefits of complementary therapies in supporting conception, if they contribute to your overall wellbeing this can only have a positive effect. If you would like to try these therapies remember they don't have to happen in isolation, a lot of specialists are open to collaborating with other health providers and can work together to help you fall pregnant sooner.  

Read more about complementary therapies »

Pre-pregnancy antenatal check-up with your GP

If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea for you and your partner to get checked by your GP to ensure you are in good physical health. This typically involves a discussion about your medical history, a review of any current medications and some general blood tests. For women, the doctor will also make sure you are up to date on your pap smear tests and check for rubella, chicken pox status, blood group, Rh factor, Hep B & Hep C.

Enjoying a healthy relationship

Relationship Expert, Dr Nikki Goldstein

Dr Nikki Goldstein discusses how you can work together to create a healthier relationship, both emotionally & physically, by eliminating stress and getting enjoyment outside (as well as in) the bedroom.

Swapping carbs for wholegrains 

Dietitian, Melanie McGrice

Too much sugar and processed carbs can affect your insulin levels and fertility. Melanie offers advice on how to reduce your glycaemic index by swapping carbs for wholegrains. 

Keep fit for fertility 

Train with the BUF Girls

In week 2, the BUF Girls, a group of specialist female trainers committed to helping women enjoy fitness, help you super tone your body to make you feel good about yourself  when preparing for pregnancy.

Age & Fertility

The single most important factor influencing your chance of conceiving is the woman’s age. This is because the number of healthy eggs a woman produces rapidly declines as she gets older, particularly after the age of 36.  What is your ovarian reserve? >>

The man's age, whilst not as significant, is relevant. As men age there is an increased possibility of sperm DNA damage that can lead to complications during the pregnancy and after birth. Studies indicate that a man's sperm volume, motility and morphology declines after the age of 45. Find out more about sperm production >>


If it is taking you longer to conceive than you expected you will hear many people say - just relax, you're too stressed. There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that emotional stress causes infertility however, stress could delay conception if it changes your behaviour or affects your relationship and stops you having regular sex. It's very important to look after your mental health so if you want to quit your job or take a holiday - go for it! If you are feeling stressed and anxious about not falling pregnant talk to your GP or specialist.

In a same-sex relationship?

If you're in a same-sex relationship the Melbourne IVF sperm donor program has helped an increasing number of women start a family. Register to attend our upcoming event about starting a family using a sperm donor. 

Learn more and register now »

Read more about options for same-sex couples »   
To do this week 
  • Review your diet and exercise plan
  • Calculate your BMI
  • Start taking pre-pregnancy vitamins


Coming Up

What's coming up next week?

  • What medical problems affect your chances of falling pregnant?
  • What fertility tests are available?
  • How to optimise your protein intake
  • Feel good about yourself when keeping fit with another BUF girls workout
  • Nikki explores feelings of guilt & shame and how to address those issues with your partner

In case you missed it

Here's a link to last week's content: Week 1: Let's make it your year >

Free Fertility Seminar - Mt Waverley

8 February 2017
Melbourne IVF is holding a free fertility seminar for couples that are trying to get pregnant and wish to take a positive step towards conceiving. Learn about fertility and the treatments available to help couples have a baby.

Free Fertility & Diet Seminar - East Melbourne

22 February 2017
Melbourne IVF is holding a free fertility seminar for couples and individuals that are trying to get pregnant and wish to take a positive step towards conceiving. Meet Dietitian Melanie McGrice as well as Melbourne IVF fertility specialists to learn about fertility and the treatments available to help you have a baby.

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