Preconception care refers to the time prior to conception when we focus on optimising our overall health so that we are in the healthiest and most favourable position to achieve a successful pregnancy, uncomplicated birth and a healthy child.
The health of the father is equally as important as the mother in Preconception care, and its benefit to the health of their offspring. Sperm are more vulnerable than ovum to toxicity, are smaller than the ovum and they have a limited capacity to repair their DNA. Fathers are often in more toxic occupations than women and are even more likely than mothers to affect miscarriage and the health of their baby. Sperm take three months to develop from formation to ejaculation therefore good preconception care is just as important for the male partner. The ovum takes approximately fourteen weeks to mature prior to conception, and the respective quality of both sperm and ova is dependent on many factors. These include:
- Exposure to chemicals, heavy metals and radiation
- Nutritional status
- Presence of untreated infections or allergies
- Alcohol and drug use
- Body weight
- Heat and pressure. Laptops on the lap, cycling, tightfitting clothing and saunas can be potentially harmful to sperm.
Laboratory results show a significant decline in sperm count, motility, morphology and volume in recent years. Couples with a history of miscarriage would be encouraged to request sperm analysis tests (non invasive tests) as well as a series of specific hormonal and antibody tests.
Where sperm test results are inadequate there is much that can be done to improve all parameters. This is where herbal medicine, healthy eating, lifestyle changes, detoxification and specific nutritional supplements can have a profound influence.