What Is Folic Acid
Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for healthy growth and development. Taking it before and during early pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine . Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health, in how the body develops or in how the body works.
To help prevent NTDs in your baby, start taking a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid every day before you get pregnant. A supplement is a product you take to make up for certain nutrients that you dont get enough of in the foods you eat. Start taking 400 mcg of folic acid each day at least 1 month before pregnancy and through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Your folic acid supplement can be:
- A multivitamin. This is a pill that contains many vitamins and other nutrients that help your body stay healthy.
- A prenatal vitamin. This is a multivitamin that has nutrients you need during pregnancy. Your health care provider may give you a prescription for prenatal vitamins, or you can get them over the counter without a prescription.
- A supplement that contains just folic acid.
Because nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, you should take a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid each day even if youre not trying to get pregnant.
Manage Your Blood Sugar
Women with PCOS are more likely to have insulin resistance than women without. Prospective studies have shown that between 31% and 35% of women with PCOS have impaired glucose tolerance. When these women become pregnant, they are at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.
If your blood sugar isnt well-controlled, see your healthcare provider and make a plan to get it under control before you conceive. This may mean improving your diet or increasing your activity level. These may be difficult changes to make, but they can make a world of difference in the health of your pregnancy.
Irrespective of pregnancy, all women with PCOS who have insulin resistance need to be treated. In addition to diet, aerobic exercise, resistance training, and metformin, drugs like Actos and Avandia may help increase insulin sensitivity and promote ovulation.
Boost Your Vitamin And Mineral Intake
Nows the time to start taking a multivitamin, if you dont already. Not only do you need folic acid to prevent neural tube, heart and limb defects, which can form in the first few weeks of pregnancy, but studies have also shown that women who are iron deficient may experience poor egg quality and even stop ovulating. A vitamin B12 deficiency can also result in irregular ovulation, and a vitamin D deficiency can interfere with hormone balance. Vitamin C can improve hormone levels, and selenium is also important, as it helps protect the egg and sperm from free-radical damage.
Librach recommends supplementing with 1,000 international units of vitamin D and one milligram of folic acid daily while trying to conceive. A prenatal vitamin, plus an additional vitamin D supplement , will give you everything you need.
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How To Get Pregnant If You Have Endometriosis
Endometriosis is another common reproductive condition, affecting more than one in 10 women in the United States. It occurs when tissue found in the uterus grows in other parts of the body, such as the ovaries or fallopian tubes.
Even mild endometriosis can reduce fertility, while severe endometriosis can distort a woman’s pelvic anatomy and, for example, block her fallopian tubes, according to a 2015 study in The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of India.
It is still possible for a woman with endometriosis to become pregnant, and, once pregnant, the pregnancy is expected to be no different to that of a woman without endometriosis. Medical treatment through drugs does not improve fertility, according to Endometriosis UK, an endometriosis-focused charity. These medications involve regulating a person’s hormones, and can slow the growth of endometrial tissue and prevent new pieces from developing, said the Mayo Clinic. But because these drugs are based on hormones , they actively stop a woman from getting pregnant.
A Guide To Female Fertility Vitamins
Not all couples trying for a baby are will fall pregnant straight away. In fact between 10-20% of women who would like to become pregnant wont get pregnant within the first year of trying. Whilst this can be due to underlying problems, it can often simply be a combination of not knowing the best time to try paired with an unbalanced lifestyle. Nutrition and physical health play a significant role in female fertility and, as such, there are a number of vitamins that can give your chances a significant boost.
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Stay In Bed Right After Intercourse
You have probably heard this one — lie in bed with your feet in the air after having sex to increase your chances of getting pregnant. The verdict? Not true.
“It’s good advice to lay in bed for 10 to 15 minutes after intercourse, but you don’t need your feet in the air,” Goldfarb says. “Your pelvis does not move when you put your legs in the air.” Don’t go the bathroom during this time either, he says. “If you wait 10 to 15 minutes, the sperm that is going to get into the cervix will be in the cervix.”
What Can Improve Your Chances Of Conception
Though taking a prenatal before and while youre trying to get pregnant likely wont impact your chances of conception, there are some steps you can take to increase those odds:
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Prenatal Multivitamins Can Raise Risk Of Miscarriage
Were you told by your OBGYN that you should start taking prenatal multivitamins even before you got pregnant? Most women are. The thought being that you should start taking them when you start trying for a baby so you’ll already be stocked full of the essential vitamins and minerals required to create a happy, healthy home for your little one. But now a new study brings that assumption into question.
According to findings published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, during a study of 35,000 mamas-to-be, 32 percent were found to be more likely to miscarry early on if they had taken the supplements regularly in the six weeks before conceiving. This studythe largest of its kindfocused on pregnant women in Denmark and was conducted in collaboration by the universities of Southern Denmak, Aarhus and Pittsburgh.
The Daily Mail reported “Taking folate supplements on their own or multivitamins while expecting had a slight beneficial effect. But the study isolated a particular risk of miscarriage among those who took the all-in-one tablets several weeks before conception, around a third of the women.
Compared with taking no pills at all, regular multivitamin use for three or four weeks beforehand saw the chances of miscarrying rise by 23 percent. For the period of five to six weeks, it was 32 percent.”
Before all you ladies trying to get pregnant ward off prenatal multivitamins, talk to your doctor, ask questions, and do what you feel is right for you.
Okay But What If Im Actively Avoiding Pregnancy
Well, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that all women of reproductive age should aim to get 400 micrograms of folic acid every day whether thats from food or a supplement. After all, the unintended pregnancy rate is almost 50 percent, Dr. Tache notes, which means about half of women who have babies werent, well, planning to.
But that doesnt mean you need to get your folate in the form of a prenatal vitamin. A lot of food is either naturally high in folate or fortified with folic acid .
If youre eating a well-rounded diet and not pregnant or trying, youre likely to be getting those 400 micrograms through diet alone, says Dr. Tache.
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Important Vitamins And Minerals Before Conceiving:
- Folic acid is most important before conceiving, and in the early stages of pregnancy. This is when the bulk of neural tube formation occurs.
- Zinc, vitamin D and iron are often deficient in adults and are useful in increasing fertility, so likewise, these would be very beneficial before conceiving to increase your chances of success as well as contribute to producing a healthy baby.
The Best Vitamins For Female Fertility
As well as a healthy balanced diet and an active and healthy lifestyle, there are a number of vitamins that have been identified as really aiding female fertility. Whilst they are certainly not essential for conception, if taken at the appropriate dose, they can increase your chances.
Folic acid is an important vitamin, not only for women trying to conceive, but during the first three months of pregnancy. Folic acid can help increase your chances of becoming pregnant and is an important nutrient in helping the babys spine develop the way it should. It is recommended that women trying to conceive take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily and continue taking this supplement for the first three months of the pregnancy.
Studies have shown that folic acid also has fertility benefits for men, increasing the quality and quantity of sperm.
Coenzyme Q10 is a natural antioxidant, which is found in many foods and available as a supplement. Our bodies make CoQ10 and our cells use it to produce the energy the body needs for cell growth and maintenance. Studies have found that CoQ10 supplements in older women trying to conceive can improve their chances of pregnancy success.
Omega 3 Fatty Acid
By regulating the hormones, promoting ovulation and increasing cervical mucus, as well as the flow of blood to the reproductive organs Omega 3 Fatty Acid has been scientifically proven to help fertility.
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Kick The Smoking And Drinking Habits
Smoking can lead to fertility problems in both women and men. Chemicals found in cigarette smoke, such as nicotine and carbon monoxide, speed up the loss rate of a woman’s eggs, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Smoking ages a woman’s ovaries and depletes her supply of eggs prematurely, according to the Mayo Clinic. In a study published in 2020 in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, researchers looked at scientific findings around smoking, alcohol, addiction and fertility they found that smoking is linked to decreased fertility.
It’s also a good idea for women to stay away from secondhand smoke, which may affect their chances of becoming pregnant. should also be avoided while trying to conceive.
It’s safest for a woman to avoid alcohol when she is hoping to become pregnant. A woman should also stop consuming alcohol if she stops using birth control because she wants to get pregnant. That said, a 2019 Danish study of 1,708 women over a five-year period did not find a link between regular alcohol consumption and binge drinking, and fertility, according to the study published in the journal Human Reproduction.
However, a 2017 study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that about half of pregnant women in the United States drink alcohol around the time they become pregnant or in early pregnancy, usually before they know they are expecting.
Once a woman becomes pregnant, there’s no safe amount of alcohol, Pavone said.
Stop Drug And Alcohol Use
Illegal drugs like cocaine and meth have chemicals that are harmful during your planning period, Ross says. The same is true for marijuana, even though its legal in some states.
Men who smoke weed, for instance, have a lower amount of sperm for weeks after they stop. Women who smoke have a harder time getting pregnant than nonsmokers.
Heavy alcohol use also affects your fertility. Its not clear whether the occasional beer or glass of wine affects your chances of getting pregnant. But experts say your safest bet is to give up booze completely when youre trying to conceive. Theres no safe amount of alcohol for a growing baby, and you may not know that youre pregnant for a few weeks or months.
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Keep To A Healthy Weight
If you’re overweight, you may have problems getting pregnant and fertility treatment is less likely to work.
Before you get pregnant you can use the BMI healthy weight calculator to find out your BMI. But this may not be accurate once you’re pregnant, so consult your midwife or doctor.
Having a healthy diet and doing moderate exercise are advised in pregnancy, and it’s important not to gain too much weight.
Unexpected Side Effects Of Prenatal Vitamins
Many have heard of the wonders that these vitamins can do for a mom’s hair and nails, but rarely does anyone mention the side effects.
Most doctors will say that from the second mom-to-be starts thinking that she wants to become a mom, she should start prepping her body. After all, mom’s body acts as a safe haven, incubator-like place for her precious little human.
When future mom gets really serious about wanting to have a baby, things like exercise and eating right have to take priority over having a few drinks or hanging out at the local bar. But above all, almost every baby doctor around will advise mom to begin taking prenatal vitamins as the perfect compliment to her lifestyle changes and as a necessary boost to her health needs once she is with child.
Many have heard of the wonders that these vitamins can do for a mom’s hair and nails, but rarely does anyone mention the side effects. And boy, are there some side effects! So mom-to-be, concerned about what sort of weird effects these new vitamins will have? Read on.
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Know When To Seek Help
Both the woman and the man should consider having an infertility evaluation if the woman is 35 or older and has not become pregnant after six months of having sex regularly without using birth control, Pavone said.
Pavone also recommended that a woman who is under 35 and her partner should consult a fertility specialist if she hasn’t become pregnant after one year of having unprotected intercourse on a regular basis.
What The Expert Says:
We asked our expert GP Dr Philippa Kaye about vitamin D and conception. She said:
Vitamin D, by itself, won’t help you conceive. But there is some evidence in both animal and human studies to suggest that vitamin D may affect fertility and IVF success rates Dr Philippa Kaye
Dr Kaye says the science isnt strong enough to confirm a definite, causal link between having good levels of vitamin D and conception success. But she also points out that there is strong evidence that vitamin-D deficiency is associated with pregnancy complications which is why pregnant women are advised to take vitamin-D supplements.
And, as vitamin-D insufficiency is really common in the UK, anyone planning to get pregnant may want to get a headstart.
Pregnant women are advised to take 10mcg vitamin D a day throughout the whole of pregnancy, so it may be worth starting while you are trying to conceive Dr Philippa Kaye
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Can Diabetics Take Prenatal Vitamins
Yes, you can. But if you have diabetes, it’s important to take prenatal vitamins that are specifically designed for diabetics. These vitamins will help reduce the risk of birth defects and complications during pregnancy.
There are a few different types of prenatal vitamins for diabetics on the market:
- Multivitamins with minerals
- Folic acid supplements
- Iron supplements
Each type of prenatal vitamin for diabetics has different benefits. It’s important to discuss your options with your doctor and find the prenatal vitamin that is best for you and your baby.
Record Menstrual Cycle Frequency
A woman who wants to have a baby should monitor whether the first days of her periods tend to occur the same number of days apart every month, which is considered regular. Conversely, her periods may be irregular, meaning her cycle lengths vary from month to month. By tracking this information on a calendar, a woman can better predict when she might be ovulating, which is the time every month when her ovaries will release an egg. There are also some apps that can help with the tracking, such as GlowOvulation period tracker .
A woman’s egg is fertile for only 12 to 24 hours after its release, according to the American Pregnancy Association. However, a man’s sperm can survive in a woman’s body for up to five days.
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