New Years Resolutions-do they work ? What is your big one this year ?

Can’t believe how quickly 2013 has come around and how long it is since I posted on this blog.

I have not yet sat down and made my new years resolutions. Every year for the past 10 years I have made the same resolution each year-I wonder if can you guess what it is.

Unsurprsingly it has been ‘to diet & to lose weight’ . In fact to lose 18lbs to be precise. Each year I start off my diet quite well and lose a few pounds then things seem to slip and I am back 12 months later with the same resolution and often more weight to lose.

But last year things were different. I found I had a really good incentive to lose weight -it was affecting my health adversely-it is amazing how much easier it is to lose weight when you have a really good reason to do so. I joined Weight Watchers and lost weight steadily getting to my target last summer. I have been at goal now for about 6 months. The support & motivation I gained from attending the class was invaluable and I found I looked forward and still do so to attending the class.

If you are trying to conceive and you are overweight then you have a really good incentive to lose weight. Being over weight reduces fertility in both men and women and losing weight can improve your chances of conceiving. Being at a healthy weight when you start your pregnancy is also associated with fewer health risks for both mother and foetus and can help you to maintain a healthy weight throughout pregnancy.

If you have quite a lot of weight to lose it may be worth talking to your GP. Some GP surgeries will fund courses with weight watchers or similar groups.

The Fertility Focus Telesummit is underway. but there is still time to join in!

The second interview of the Fertility Focus Telesummit was mine, on how “Creating an Effective Support Network Can Make All the Difference When Trying To Conceive.” I’m really excited by the response I have had, with many listeners emailing me afterward to thank me and/or tell me that what I shared really resonated with them. The Telesummit is completely free to listen to the live presentations, and the replays for 24 hours after each interview. If you didn’t know about it before, it’s not too late to get involved.

The 2nd Fertility Focus Telesummit, created and moderated by Sarah Holland, is running this week.  Twelve fertility experts from around the world, and 3 fertility bloggers, are speaking throughout the week on various aspects of fertility health and support.  Sarah started things off on Sunday, the 20th of March, with an introduction to the Telesummit and an explanation of how to get the most out of it.

Yesterday, Monday the 21st, saw the first two interviews; Dr Marion Glenville spoke on the nutritional aspect of fertility health, giving much of her hour-long presentation over to listeners’ questions and providing really comprehensive responses.  The second interview of the evening was mine, on how “Creating an Effective Support Network Can Make All the Difference When Trying To Conceive.”  I’m really excited by the response I have had, with many listeners emailing me afterward to thank me and/or tell me that what I shared really resonated with them.

The Telesummit is completely free to listen to the live presentations, and the replays for 24 hours after each interview. If you didn’t know about it before, it’s not too late to get involved.  Click here to register for the Fertility Focus Telesummit FREE!  You can listen live, and submit questions for each of the speakers, or listen at your leisure to the recordings afterward.  If you are really busy this week and know you won’t be able to listen in, OR you just want to have all 17 audio files to refer to over and over, Sarah provides the option of upgrading to a Golden Ticket so you can purchase the whole Telesummit’s talks, which will be emailed to you as an MP3 file afterward. This is an incredible value, this week only while the Telesummit is running, at US$67, including several bonuses. You can find all the information at the Telesummit website.

Because I’m a bit late in letting you know about the Telesummit and my own presentation on creating a support network, I’d like to share some of that information with you here.  Having been through several challenging years of recurrent miscarriage and secondary infertility myself, I have the benefit of hindsight telling me that I really could have coped far better if I had been more proactive about getting myself, and my husband, the right balance of emotional and practical support.  Infertility put a big strain on our marriage, and I felt very alone and fearful that I would not be able to have the children I had always dreamed of having.  We are fortunate to have come through those rough times, and to have our two children.  Using my training and experience as a fertility coach, I have developed a system to help each of my clients create a support network for their unique needs, thus easing their experience of infertility and efforts to conceive and helping them to feel less isolated and stressed.

During the call, I explained:

  • Why infertility support is so important;
  • The 5 most essential types of support every infertile person needs;
  • Why your partner is not always the best source of support;
  • How you actually create your personal support network;
  • What you can do is someone you expected to be supportive has turned out to be the opposite; and
  • How to maintain a really effective support network over a long period of time.

I’m also offering a Free Bonus to Callers from the Telesummit! I’ve created a comprehensive Worksheet that takes you through the process of creating your own infertility support network, step by step. So, if you haven’t already registered, don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

I’m listening to the other speakers throughout the week myself. I have to say, I’ve been very impressed so far. I’ve learned a lot already from both Dr Glenville and Andrew Loosely, Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist. Other expert speakers during the week include Sarah Holland on using EFT for conception, Kristin Hayward, Zita West, Gabriela Rosa, Toni Weschler, Sue Dumais, Nicola Smuts, Deirdre Morris and Cindy Bailey. Then, you can listen to talks from 3 prolific bloggers, including the authors of “From IF to When,” “Eggs and Sperm” and “Survive and Thrive.” I’m really looking forward to the rest of the week.

5 simple things you can change that may increase your chances of conceiving

Its funny how often the simple changes can bring the biggest rewards.

1) Make sure you have sex at your most fertile time .

Now this is not to say that you should only have sex at your fertile time, in fact there is lots of evidence to show the opposite. To keep the sperm supply at its best, you should have regular sex throughout the month but it is pretty crucial that you have intercourse during your fertile time (around ovulation)

How do you know when its your fertile time ? That the subject of a whole other blog post on ovulation predictor tests & methods

2) Replace your usual personal lubricant with a sperm friendly lubricant

These days many couples use intimate lubricants either for foreplay, intercourse or both. Many intimate lubricants (including saliva) in common useage are not sperm friendly ie this means the lubricant can actually impair or damage sperm-not good news when you are trying to conceive.

In the UK there are currently 3 personal lubricants on the market that have been designed especially for couples trying to conceive and are clinically proven to be sperm friendly. They are Pre-Seed, Conceive Plus and Zestica Fertility.

To find out more about fertility friendly personal lubricants click here

3) Stop your man using his laptop on his lap

It is amazing how many men spend most evenings with a laptop on their laps while watching television or travelling on a train. Laptops heat up very quickly and generate large amounts of heat that can be detrimental to sperm. The testicles, which is where the sperm are produced and stored, are outside the body because if they were inside the body the heat from the body cavity would impair & damage the sperm. When a man has a laptop on his lap it is right over his testicles and this is likely to cause overheating.

I recently came a cross a couple where the man’s sperm count had come back with a low motility count, and he was using a laptop on his lap for extended periods most nights. He changed this laptop behaviour & the sperm count and motility has improved.

4) Keep your weight at a healthy level.

There has long been  anecdotal eveidence to suggest that weight is important but now this has been backed up by clinical evidence to suggest that fertility is reduced in both overweight women & underweight women.

5) Relax-

I know its easier said than done, but more and more studies are confirming that stress can be a big factor in unexplained infertility. Sometimes the stress of trying to conceive itself can actually hamper your attempts.

Look at other areas of stress in your life and see if you can reduce or alleviate them. Consider alternative therapies which are often excellent at helping to alleviate or manage stress. Yoga and Pilates for example are great at teaching you to relax. Make a list of things that you can do to help you relax each day and make sure you do one of them each day. It can be as simple as taking a lovely bubble bath or taking a walk outside in the sunshine. You know the things that help you to relax-so make time to do them

Thinking yourself slim

We hear a lot about how maintaining a healthy weight can help improve your chances of conceiving if you are overweight or underweight, but not so much about how to actually achieve this.

Like many women, I have been a professional slimmer most of my life. It started in my teenage years, when I developed what my dad lovingly referred to as ‘puppy fat’, and my curves really started to show. I have always naturally had a fairly curvaceous fuller size 14 figure and been on and off various diets for most of my life. Does this sound familiar?

 At some times of my life I have been a very slim size 8-10 but only managed to stay like that by continually restricting my calorie intake to around 1000-1500 calories a day, and exercising every day. In my twenties I was at the gym for 2-3 hours every day after work. Looking back I realise this was verging on the obsessive-luckily I had an understanding husband. My family were quite concerned about my health, and thought I was overdoing it. Looking back I think they may have been right but I was using the exercise as a coping mechanism for a stressful job & I enjoyed it.

Constant dieting & over exercising in this way can also put a huge strain on our bodies, and may impair your chances of conceiving.

 So how do we find this healthy balance ?

I have recently been listening to a series of  audio books by Pete Cohen called ‘Sort your life out Slimming’, that are about the Psychology of slimming which have made me look at things in a whole different way.  I have now stopped dieting and am thinking myself slim ( ie thinking about what I eat & when I eat, but not depriving myself and only eating when I am really hungry -thats the theory anyway) The book also puts a big emphasis on moving more, and keeping our bodies active without obsessing about exercise.

So far I have lost 1.5 lbs which really surprised me. I have not been to my slimming group for about a month now and it feels very liberating not to be ‘dieting’.

I have also given up weighing myself and just weigh myself about once a week-used to weigh myself every day which I now realise was silly and self defeating. Naturally slim people never weigh themselves-the theory is if we think & act like a slim person, then we will be slim. Sounds simple 

At this time of year my mind like many others turn to thoughts of chocolate, so this is going to be a testing time. Think I’d better listen to the audiobook again !

The audiobooks are great fun to listen to , and give you a whole new perspective on the Psychology of being slim and staying slim. Pete Cohen is very easy to listen to and I reccommend these audiobooks if you are trying to lose weight & feel you are stuck in a rut of deprivation and guilt, which so many slimmers experience.

The books are available through itunes as a download or available on Amazon as a cd

Your Weight Could Be a Fertility Issue

Have you considered your weight as one of the possible obstacles to your dreams of having a baby? This isn’t about being fat or skinny; no judgment about your appearance is being made. Your weight can play a significant part in the ability of your body to ovulate, produce quality eggs and maintain a healthy pregnancy, especially if you are extremely underweight or overweight.

You may already have some idea about your weight’s impact on your reproductive system if you have had irregular menstrual periods, the onset of a thyroid condition or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or vitamin deficiencies.  What you may not know is that very overweight or underweight women have a much lower chance of conceiving, even with fertility treatment. As a result, many fertility specialists won’t take on a patient who wouldn’t benefit as much from their help and/or whose unsuccessful treatment would affect their success ratings.

Many clinics will use your weight, or Body Mass Index (BMI), as criteria for accepting you as a patient.  There is no hard and fast rule on this because one athletic woman with developed musculature can weigh more and carry less fat than another woman of similar age and height.  BMI of 19 – 24 is considered normal and 25 – 29 overweight. If either your weight or BMI falls under 19 or above 29, you may encounter a delay in being accepted for treatment, with instructions to lose or gain weight before coming back.  Whether you are still trying to become pregnant naturally, or if fertility treatment is your next step and your weight is a possible issue, here are some steps that you can follow to move forward with your family plan.

Your Attempts to Conceive Keep notes, not only of your weight, but also how often you have a period and how often and when you have sexual intercourse without the use of contraceptive devices. There are books available that provide a structure for tracking essential information for fertility, but any journal or notebook will do.

Identify Your Obstacles See your doctor to identify whether your current weight is a possible obstacle to conception. You must be forthcoming about your pattern of weight gain and loss, your eating habits and any extreme dieting or exercising you have done, even if you find these topics embarrassing.  You may be tested for high or low blood pressure, thyroid function, diabetes, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and the level of oestrogen you are producing.

Eating Disorders Serious eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and extreme compulsive overeating require medical supervision, structured programs and counselling over a lengthy period to ensure and support recovery. Anorexia and obesity can both affect ovarian function adversely and bulimia is linked to PCOS, so pregnancy is unlikely, though not impossible. If you do conceive while battling an eating disorder, it could impact negatively upon the baby’s ability to thrive as well as your own health. Think about everything you eat and drink passing to the baby in your womb, though in a slightly different form. Not only nutrients are taken in by the baby, but also the high calorie/ high sugar and high fat content of your less nutritious food.

Recovery from an eating disorder can be a long and difficult process; it’s not only about what you eat, but also why you eat it that needs to be determined.  The destructive cycle of thought and behaviour has to be broken and relearned in a positive way.  The baby will be dependant upon you and require a fully present parent.

Eating disorders actually require an enormous amount of mental energy, planning the next binge, the next purge (self-induced vomiting) or how to avoid eating without anyone else noticing.  These disorders are nearly always accompanied by some degree of self-hatred. Dissatisfaction with the sufferer’s appearance, social relationships and/or self-belief fuels the fire and that brings on more irrational and dangerous behaviour.

If you think, or know, that you have an undiagnosed eating disorder, don’t waste a minute before you consult a doctor.  I am not minimizing the difficulty in admitting it to oneself; it will take courage and commitment.

Your GP can probably refer you to a specialist medical unit where counselling  and other practical assistance is offered.  There are also many groups where you can meet with people who have experienced similar disorders and receive confidential support.

Lifestyle Changes for Self-CareYour health is vital before, during and after you conceive, carry and deliver your baby.  You can’t breathe a sigh of relief upon conceiving and then let yourself go to pot.  Bad habits don’t disappear overnight, so get working on them immediately.

If your current weight is due to poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking or over-consumption of alcohol, a nutritionist and an experienced personal trainer can advise on necessary changes in your lifestyle.  This is no time for a crash diet or the use of over-the-counter weight-loss or weight-gain drugs or powdered drink mixes. Don’t put all of yourself into a weight-loss or weight-gain scheme just to win the approval of your RE, only to let it all go back the way it had been afterward.  Careless indulgence in bad habits means that you aren’t prioritizing self-care.

How fit you are will also determine how you carry a pregnancy.  Over the nine months, you may be carrying anywhere between 18 and 45 extra pounds, putting extra pressure on your skin, muscles, veins, spine, breasts and joints.  Stretch marks only mar the surface of your body, but varicose veins can result from carrying too much weight and excess blood flow during pregnancy and knee trouble is quite common in obese women.  That’s just during pregnancy.

Then comes the aftermath: life with baby.  Think about how often mothers  have to bend over, crouch down on the floor, get in and out of the car or bus, lift car seats and play cots and balance a baby on one hip.   If you were quite overweight before conceiving, and continue your poor habits, you could easily find yourself 75 to 100 pounds above your optimal weight before you give birth.

Trading One Habit for Another Keep in mind that what you ingest (not just food) during pregnancy and breastfeeding, your baby will too. Do not consider turning to cigarettes, alcohol or caffeinated, artificially sweetened soft drinks to help you avoid eating.  Nicotine and damaged lung tissue stay in your system for a very long time.  Smoking itself can cause low birth weight and nicotine addiction in newborns.  Alcohol could result in your baby being born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, which could cause low birth weight, developmental problems or epilepsy among other symptoms that could affect him for life. The soft drinks will just fill you up, make you gassy and add no nutrition relative to the volume you consume.  Since you need extra nutrients for optimal health at conception, don’t waste space on junk drinks.

Your Motivation Finding the motivation to change your behaviour should be simple because you already have a goal in mind. You want to become pregnant and give birth to a healthy baby. Use that goal as motivation to change your attitudes and behaviour.  Think of yourself as a healthy vessel for conceiving, carrying and then caring for your child. When you are on the verge of bingeing, skipping a meal or eating junk food, consider how that would impact upon your weight and health and ultimately upon your attempts to conceive.

Your Plan Bad habits take a long time to embed, so they are not going to change over night. If you and your doctor believe that you can make positive weight changes yourself, formulate your own structured plan. Write down your:

  • specific weight,
  • a realistic time frame,
  • a list of quality foods in moderate quantities and
  • the exercise you will do to boost your health and strength
  • other healthy strategies to achieving your goal weight.

Keep track of your efforts and your achievements as you move toward your goal. While there may be other obstacles to conceiving a healthy pregnancy, if you persevere, you will have eliminated weight as one of them.

Lisa Marsh is a qualified life coach in
London, UK, specializing in Fertility and Miscarriage Support. She is dedicated to educating and supporting men and women concerned with reproductive health, infertility, fertility treatment and all forms of family building.

To find out more about Lisa and her work as a fertility coach, visit her blog at  She can be contacted at lisa@yourgreatlife.co.uk  for coaching, article writing or speaking engagements.