Tuesday, 8 April 2008

It should be noted that this book is a work in progress. The reason I am publishing it in this way is that it has not been progressing so i am trying to add some momentum. As such I would greatly appreciate any comments people can supply. In the munuscript below the {} mean that this needs to be filled in. I have notes on everything in the document but have not been collating them and adding them. In some cases I will need to go back to the original research and re-read it as it has been a while. All of the following is useful information so if you know anyone who is trying, or thinking of trying do recommend that they visit thsi blog and have a look. If there is something they (or you) wish to know add a comment and I will either publish the bit with it in or find out for you as appropriate.

Rufus Evison


{Why stress matters, effects on sperm count, hormone levels etc.}
{A short few paragraphs about a positive attitude to enjoying creating a child}
{A little on how to de-stress without stressing your partner. }
{Book recommendations on stress.}

Her stress matters too!

Telling People
As I have explained, one of the major factors affecting the ability to conceive is stress. To know that everyone knows you are trying and that they are all waiting to see what happens, how you do and how long it takes can be stressful. Personally I recommend you avoid that stress by not telling people you are trying.

For the first three months I would even say do not even admit to yourselves that you are trying. Do not do any of the things recommended in the section about sex, do not get too uptight about any of the other suggestions. Generally relax. After three months you can start looking at gently introducing a little method into your behaviour, but avoid at all costs spoiling sex by making the purpose of it procreation to the exclusion of all else. If sex is recreation you are much more likely to produce a conception than if everything is cold, clinical and planned.

Once you have been without contraception for three months your partners hormones should have settled down, and you can think about trying, but that does not mean it is time to tell people. Far from it. The standard advice from the medical profession is not to tell people you are pregnant until you are three months pregnant. Until you can tell them that there is no real reason to tell them anything that can set their expectations and so apply stress to you as a couple.

Trying for a baby is exciting, and you will naturally want to shout it to the world. Also you may well be looking for advice and reassurance. It is possible to do this without adding stress to your lives and without being deceitful. Tell people that you are thinking about trying.

If you are at the stage of not yet doing all the different things in this book, and are not having IVF then you could say that you are not yet really trying; you are just providing an opportunity for nature to take its course. This is a positive and non-pressuring way of looking at things as well as being an attitude that allows you to ask advice from people with children. It is a natural thing to do if you are thinking about trying. It is even something that I would suggest you should do while you are still on contraceptives.

Often things work best when they feel right and natural. This is true of sports, for example golf swings, it is true of love matches and it is true of creating children. Relax into your role as someone who will try if they need to but at the moment is just letting their life flow towards having children. Explore the new ideas in discussion with your partner, your friends and your family. Let it happen and do not start trying until you have no choice.

When you reach three months and feel safe telling people about the baby they will not be surprised as you will have talked to them about it in the abstract. At the same time if you go a year or two without moving on to actually having children they will not be surprised as you have not set any sort of time line in their heads. This is open and honest, yet at the same time non-stressful without expectations you feel you have to fulfil.

It is even reasonable for both you and her to change your diet, cut down on alcohol and all those sort of things while you are on contraception to give the child a good chance. Folic acid for instance both of you should take 3 months (in your case 100 days) before there is a possibility of conception. People will probably understand that if they happen to notice. Certainly if you have been discussing things with them you will have had an opportunity to bring it up.

If you are reading this through before you have decided to try then I would suggest looking at your diet or taking supplements now, as it will do you good whether or not you decide to have children yet. Feel free to point out this recommendation to people who may otherwise assume that you are already trying despite your protestations.

Every-day causes of every day stress that you can avoid for her.
Everyday ways to lower her stress levels.

Paying attention
There is a fine line to walk here between on the one hand bugging her, and on the other hand seeming uninterested. On that line is paying attention, and be warned the line wiggles. I will be making things harder by giving you more things to watch without bugging her to find out.

She is going to need continual reassurance that you love her and romance is a good way to do this, providing it is not totally out of character for you.

{little gifts e.g. soft toy, T-shirt with scan print on, jewellery, random flowers, a single chocolate hand wrapped, a note waiting where she would not expect it}

Environmental factors
The three things which lower the sperm count are:
1. heat
2. tightness
3. electrostatics

There is a study which illustrates how extreme some of the effects clothing can get.
{Details of study. Things to check in terms of your current wardrobe. Places that sell good garments. Include underwear and artificial fibres on trousers and similar. }
Scuba Diving
Hot Baths
Hot working environment

Fitness, anorexia and obesityAnorexic, bulimic or just plain thin?
{Underweight effects}
{Ways to gain weight}
Periods, thinness and long term effects

Are you obese?
What is your BMI?
{overweight effects}

Are you unfit?
Exercise is good for both of you. Exercise together to help encourage her, prevent injuries, etc. Make sure she does not strain herself, over-exert or anything like that. Very easy to do have your altered posture cause injury as bones are rearranging themselves.


Encourage her to stay active as better for the birth as well as better for her.
BMI, fat measuring weighing machines and callipers
Too much exercise, hormones and conception

A word of warning, the BMI can be quite misleading. It does not take into account differing levels of fitness or how fat you are versus how muscular you are. Body builders who typically have very low levels of body fat appear to be obese if the measure used is the BMI.

Underweight men who had a BMI under 20 also suffered from similar reductions in sperm counts.

"Body mass within the ideal "normal" range was associated with higher sperm concentration, higher total sperm count, and a lower percentage of abnormal sperm," write researcher Tina Kold Jensen, MD, PhD, of the University of Southern Denmark, and colleagues.

Researchers say these findings may have important implications for the future procreation potential of men worldwide in light of rising obesity rates.
The study also showed that as men's weight increased blood testosterone levels decreased.

We are still waiting to see if the current obesity ‘epidemic’ leads to a parallel infertility epidemic due to poor quality sperm.

For example, men with a high or low BMI were more likely than normal-weight men to have a sperm count below 20 million per millilitre of semen, which is abnormally low.
Overweight men -- those with a BMI over 25 -- had a 24 percent lower sperm count compared with average-weight men.

Smoking, drinking and drugs

Illegal Drugs to Avoid
Obviously I have to advise against all illegal drugs as they are generally illegal because they are damaging in some way. The further from peak condition your body and mind are, the harder it is to have a baby, or to be in the right state to look after it. If you have been thinking about giving up then having a child can be the incentive you need to make it happen.

In either case, what follows is some information about the particular illegal drugs that prevalent research seems to show to have negative effects relevant to creating a baby. I have described the problems that there is some research to support. Most of the research only covers women taking drugs during pregnancy, where this is the case I have not included warnings on the man taking drugs prior to conception. This does not mean there are no effects from you taking things prior to conception, nor does it mean it is safe for you to take the drugs during the pregnancy. All it means is I have not seen research to prove quite how bad it is likely to be.

The research I have seen has tried to control for confounding factors, but this may not always have been possible. One problem is that known drug users often introduce other problems that affect the child. It is not always possible to separate the effects of the prenatal dose from the post natal factors of living with parents who use drugs. That said the research does vary across a widely ranging set of populations and does appear to be meaningful.

Another problem of drug use is that the partners of drug users often use themselves, and find it much harder to stop on their own. Unless you stop, your partner will probably not stop either, and may hide their use from you. I have included under each drug some information about the effects of women’s drug use during pregnancy. A foetus is vulnerable enough that having a rare steak for dinner could have a drastic effect, so it is no surprise that effects of women’s use during pregnancy can make fairly distressing reading.

Any drug that can be consumed by smoking carries the dangers of passive smoking. Passive smoking is not just from the smoke being inhaled. It has been shown that infants suffer from the smoke absorbed into clothes, furniture etcetera and need a smoke free environment. The same is presumably true for partners carrying babies. So in summary:

• Drugs you take can lower your chances of causing a conception.
• Drugs you take before conception can affect child health after birth including
o Lower birth rate
o Deformities
o Child cancer
o Learning difficulties
• If you use drugs then your partner may use them during pregnancy leading to an even higher chance of:
o Miscarriage
o Birth defects
o Child cancer
o Child learning difficulties at a later age.
• Drugs you take after conception can passively affect your partner and cause all of the above.

Some statistics on how large a proportion of the populations uses Marijuana.
Marijuana can affect the brain chemistry responsible for releasing reproductive hormones. Marijuana decreases testosterone, sperm count, and potency. A father's drug use can also cause birth defects, particularly higher rates of heart abnormalities.

More, if you smoke then how can you tell your partner to stop? Women who smoke marijuana have increased risk of abnormal ovulation and are less fertile. Scarily this can be affected by past use, though it is worst when taken within a year before you start trying. The risk does not really change much with how often you use, nor with how long you use for. Even occasional use of small amounts of marijuana can decrease women's fertility.

Leaving aside risks to conception, women who smoke marijuana have higher rates of miscarriage, pregnancy problems, and difficulties with labour and delivery. Birth defects are associated with marijuana use.

A mothers' use of cannabis is associated with increased rates of various childhood cancers. The newborn babies can experience some withdrawal symptoms and other effects on their nervous system. Some of the other effects are not so obvious in newborns. These include neurological delays in the brain. These affect the so called ‘higher functions’ which cannot really be measured until the child starts to grow up. They tend to exhibit as poor memory, low attention span, poor reasoning and analysis, poor reading and language learning and various other learning disabilities at ages anywhere from 4 years to fully grown. All in all it is not a nice thing to arrange for your unborn child, and even if your partner gives up the second hand consumption from your clothes and body could have an effect.

Only one study showed Marijuana to have a positive effect. That one was taken in Jamaica where there was a possibility of cross contamination (some of the non-users turned out to be drinking marijuana teas regularly and were removed from the non-user category, others may have been using intermittently in a social context). The positive effects were all found at an early age (one month or less) where higher functions cannot be measured and docility is considered a good thing.



(c) Rufus Evison 2005-2008

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