Monthly Archives: November 2016

tricks to optimize your chances of getting pregnant

1. Pull the goalie

As always, let’s start with the obvious: If you are on birth control, get off it. Work with your doctor to take you off birth control and ask her when you can expect to begin ovulating again, which has a great deal to do with the type of birth control you were taking. You might begin to ovulate immediately, or it could take several months for your body to adjust and produce its own monthly cycle. (If you were using Depo-Provera, it could be even longer—but not necessarily. Don’t assume anything!) If you are using an IUD for contraception, you will have to have it removed by your doctor, and as soon as it’s taken out, your body is ready to conceive. If you have been using some type of barrier method (condoms, diaphragm, or spermicide), the presumption is that you are fertile as long as you don’t use them.

Many people come off their longer-term contraceptives and use barrier methods until they’re truly ready to conceive.

No matter which goalie you’d previously employed, don’t panic if you don’t get pregnant right away. Just gives you more time to prepare your body!

2. Quit smoking. NOW.

Seriously. If you smoke or your partner smokes, stop immediately. I know, easier said than done, but I don’t care. Get it done. Dying isn’t easy, either. If by some miracle you did manage to get pregnant as a smoker (amazingly, it happens), you do not want your little one subjected to the hideous toxins in womb or out. And if you are thinking, “I’ll smoke up till I get pregnant and then stop,” smoking seriously impacts your fertility as well as your partner’s. There is no debate about this. In men, nicotine damages sperm DNA. In women, smoking cigarettes while trying to conceive radically decreases your chances of getting pregnant while also increasing your risk of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, decreased follicle count, and potential damage to DNA in the follicle.

Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, an ob-gyn in private practice in Beverly Hills, says that smoking also causes fetal growth restriction and placental dysfunction—yikes! Some estimate that every year you smoke 10 or more cigarettes a day ages your ovaries 4 years. Smokers are more than 50 percent more likely to wait a year or longer to get pregnant than non-smokers. Thankfully, some of these effects can partially reverse themselves once you stop smoking. Did I say STOP NOW yet? Well, I’m saying it again!

Honestly, my friend—you just need to cold turkey this one. Sorry to be so blunt about it, but all that crap is really bad for you. Ask yourself what’s more important—your life and your kid or your smokes? Thought so. Now quit and let’s move on.

3. Cut back on caffeine

If you typically have one or two cups of coffee or tea every day, you are okay. But if you are a heavy caffeine imbiber (through coffee, tea, or yuck, soda, or even worse, diet soda!), you’re going to need to cut back to about 150 milligrams a day, or about one cup of brewed coffee, to improve your fertility. Research has linked excessive caffeine consumption (above 500 mg to 1,000 mg, or four to six strong cups daily) to miscarriage or stillbirth. Other research shows no link, but I suggest erring on the side of caution here. That much caffeine is terrible for you, pregnant or otherwise. Why risk it either way?

What I can say for sure is that caffeine is a diuretic that washes calcium and other key pregnancy nutrients out of your system before they can be completely absorbed. Caffeine is also a stimulant, so it raises your heart rate and can cause insomnia and contribute to heartburn (which is zero fun). None of this is necessary for you right now, and especially not for your baby.

4. Skip the booze

I know, this one really sucks. I hate to be a stickler, but plenty of current research suggests alcohol can affect your fertility. Your partner should take heed on this as well. I know, I read the research that says alcohol in moderation is okay, and I have heard many women talk about how they were drinking up until the day they knew they were pregnant and had no complications with conception or pregnancy whatsoever. I’ve heard the stories about the women who had a beer every night or whose European moms drank wine. Sure, it doesn’t always cause a problem for every person, but some people are more affected by alcohol than others.

5. Get to a healthy weight

Sorry to sound like an insensitive jerk, but your body weight has a direct effect on your ability to conceive, the safety of your pregnancy, and the health of your baby. If you are overweight or obese, now is the time to deal, not after you are already pregnant. I know this isn’t easy. For some people, it seems like an impossibility. However, if you never had the motivation before, this could be what finally helps you make it happen for yourself.

male immune cells are from Mars and female cells are from Venus | Why ?

Michigan State University researchers are the first to uncover reasons why a specific type of immune cell acts very differently in females compared to males while under stress, resulting in women being more susceptible to certain diseases.

The novel finding could be considered a good example of the pop culture metaphor that men and women are from two distinct planets and respond very differently under stressful situations.

Led by Adam Moeser, an endowed chair and associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, the federally funded study found that females were more vulnerable to certain stress-related and allergic diseases than males because of distinct differences found in mast cells, a type of white blood cell that’s part of the immune system.

“Over 8,000 differentially expressed genes were found in female mast cells compared to male mast cells,” Moeser said. “While male and female mast cells have the same sets of genes on their chromosomes, with the exception of the XY sex chromosomes, the way the genes act vary immensely between the sexes.”

The study is co-authored by Emily Mackey, a doctoral student in veterinary medicine, and is published in the journal Biology of Sex Differences.

Mast cells are an important immune cell because they play a key role in stress-related health issues that are typically more common in women such as allergic disorders, autoimmune diseases, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.

IBS, for example, is a disorder in the intestine that creates significant abdominal pain and affects almost a quarter of the U.S. population. Women are up to four times more likely to have it than men.

A further in-depth analysis of the genes within the RNA genome — a primary building block in all forms of life — revealed an increase in activity that’s linked to the production and storage of inflammatory substances. These substances can create a more aggressive response in the body and result in disease.

“This could explain why women, or men, are more or less vulnerable to certain types of diseases,” Moeser said.

With this new understanding of how different genes act, Moeser said scientists could eventually start developing new sex-specific treatments that target these immune cells and stop the onset of disease.

He added though that an important next step in his research is figuring out when in the development stage these immune cells start to act differently.

“Pinpointing when this variance happens will let us know if it occurs during adulthood or in individuals at an early age,” Moeser said. “Many mast cell diseases exhibit a sex bias in children and if we can identify the timing and the mechanism of what’s influencing the change, we’ll have an even better understanding of how these immune cells cause disease and know when to intervene with potentially new therapies.”

Ways to Boost Women’s Health

Health Tip #1: Eat a healthy diet. “You want to eat as close to a natural foods diet as you can,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. That means a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Eat whole grains and high-fiber foods and choose leaner cuts of meat, fish, and poultry. Include low-fat dairy products in your diet as well — depending on your age, you need between 800 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily to help avoid osteoporosis, Dr. Novey says. Avoid foods and beverages that are high in calories, sugar, salt, and fat.

Healthy eating will help you maintain a proper weight for your height, which is important because being overweight can lead to a number of illnesses. Looking for a healthy snack? Try some raw vegetables, such as celery, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, or zucchini with dip made from low-fat yogurt.

If you’re not getting enough vitamins and nutrients in your diet, you might want to take a multivitamin and a calcium supplement to make sure you’re maintaining good health.

Health Tip #2: Exercise. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in America, but plenty of exercise can help keep your heart healthy. You want to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, if not every day. Aerobic exercises (walking, swimming, jogging, bicycling, dancing) are good for women’s health in general and especially for your heart, says Sabrena Merrill, MS, of Lawrence, Kan., a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and a spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise.

Health Tip #3: Avoid risky habits. Stay away from cigarettes and people who smoke. Don’t use drugs. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Most women’s health studies show that women can safely consume one drink a day. A drink is considered to be about 12 to 14 grams of alcohol, which is equal to 12 ounces of beer (4.5 percent alcohol); 5 ounces of wine (12.9 percent alcohol); or 1.5 ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey, 80-proof).

Health Tip #4: Manage stress. No matter what stage of her life — daughter, mother, grandmother — a woman often wears many hats and deals with a lot of pressure and stress. “Take a few minutes every day just to relax and get your perspective back again,” Novey says. “It doesn’t take long, and mental health is important to your physical well-being.” You also can manage stress with exercise, relaxation techniques, or meditation.

Health Tip #5: Sun safely. Excessive exposure to the sun’s harmful rays can cause skincancer, which can be deadly. To protect against skin cancer, wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 if you are going to be outdoors for more than a few minutes. Even if you wear sunscreen faithfully, you should check regularly for signs of skin cancer. Warning signs include any changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of birthmarks, moles, or freckles, or new, enlarging, pigmented, or red skin areas. If you spot any changes or you find you have sores that are not healing, consult your doctor.