Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How loudly is your biological clock ticking?

I've been banging the preconception healthcare drum for nearly thirty years, so it never ceases to amaze me when somebody turns around and says “hey, I didn’t know it was going to be hard to get pregnant in my 30s - nobody ever talks about these things!” Hello, where have you been baby? The media is awash with articles, blogs and online forums are full of the TTC (trying to conceive), IVF specialists tout their wares, their ever-more-sophisticated techniques and their dubious successes at every opportunity.

Talk about blinkers on - but then I ask, who else is wearing blinkers? Whenever we’re bombarded with the plummeting fertility statistics and the drastic decline of fertility with age (and surprise, surprise men have a biological clock that ticks too!) where is the common sense? Am I the lone voice in the wilderness that says, hang on a minute, is age the only factor here? 

So do you want to know how you can preserve your fertility and ensure the healthiest baby possible? The answer’s simple - pay very close attention to your own health before conception. The reason for the rise in reproductive problems with age can be simply summarized as longer exposure to 21st century diets and lifestyles. Nutrition, lifestyle, environment and mental and emotional factors all need very careful attention by both partners if you plan to delay your baby-making (or if after attending to all the preconception issues, you consider that IVF is the only option). The four months immediately preceding conception are the most critical!

Comprehensive preconception health care has clearly been shown to give significant protection against age-related sub-fertility, miscarriage and foetal defect. The University of New England has conducted an independent study of 67 couples on the Natural Fertility Management conception program at The Jocelyn Centre. Developed by my co-author Francesca Naish, results of the program are more than merely encouraging. 52% of previously infertile couples can conceive within the first 4 months following completion of preconception care. Over the last 30 years, working with many thousands of couples, The Jocelyn Centre, despite a high proportion of patients being in their late 30s, early to mid 40s and beyond, has achieved successful pregnancies when all else has failed and an insignificant number of age-related defects.

The studies from Foresight - Association for Promotion of Preconceptual Care (UK) and the emerging research in the fields of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, (DOHaD), foetal origins and epigenetics also provide incontrovertible evidence...optimisation of nutritional status and complete avoidance of any potential toxicity by both partners for at least 4 months prior to conception is the only certain way to ensure the health of the next generation and to reduce the toll of compromised reproductive health (and that includes reducing the infertility rates across all age groups)!

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