Trying to start a family should be easy (and fun), right? That might not be the case as 1 in 8 couples are having a hard time conceiving. Meaning they have been actively trying for more than a year if under the age of 35 or more than six months if over the age of 35. According to Health Magazine’s Medical Editor, Dr. Roshini Raj states, “Getting in as early as you can is key to getting the help you need.” Dr. Raj recently helped launch a new website with Merck called, Fertility Guide as a way to help couples who are in the process of seeking their next steps understand what exactly they should be doing. In fact, here is what Dr. Raj said couples can do to improve their chances of having a family:
What can couples do if they are thinking about starting a family?
Couples can reduce their intake of alcohol, eat healthy and exercise. Men should not put their computers on their laps as studies are finding this can affect the quality of their sperm and fertility outcomes. Women who are overweight should lose weight as it can be diffcult to conceive or the have an increased chance of being a high risk pregnancy. Women should also begin taking a high quality prenatal at least six months before becoming pregnant as it helps to ensure there are adequate levels of folate and Vitamin B12.
After a couple has been trying without any success, what is their next steps?
Seeing a fertility specialist early is important because it may be as simple as a timing issue. Consider buying an ovulation kit at your local drugstore to ensure timing is right. Asking the right questions and early discussion can help couples be efficient in their doctor’s appointment and get things going in the right direction. (Download the Doctor Discussion Guide from Fertility Guide)
I have heard studies that say 4%-8% of trying couples may have celiac disease which can contribute to infertility. Do you recommend that all couples get tested for Celiac disease?
Yes, as a gastroenterologist and passion for women’s health, couples should get tested, however it is not a standard part of fertility testings. Couples should request this to rule it out or get solid answers because undiagonsed Celiac disease can cause other health issues . (Read: Untangling the Relationship between Celiac Disease and Infertility)
Is there anything else couples can do to enhance their chances of conceiving, such as using acupuncture?
The studies vary, however, using alternative therapies does not hurt and should be discussed with the fertility specialist. (Read The Ancient Art of Infertility Treatment by WebMD)
About Dr. Raj:
Roshini Rajapaksa, MD is a board certified gastroenterology and internal medicine with a medical degree from New York Schoolf of Medicine and an undergraduate degree from Harvard College. Currently, Dr. Raj is an attending physician at NYU Medical Center/Tisch Hospital in New York City where she was the first female gastroenterologist to join the faculty. She also serves as an assisant professor of medicine at the NYI School of Medicine. Dr. Raj has a special interest in women’s health.
In August 2010, her first book, What the Yuck?! The Freaky & Fabulous Truth About Your Body debuted.
Dr. Raj resides in New York City with her husband and two children