High Blood Pressure and FertilityDianna Graveman | 1, November 2011
What do high blood pressure and fertility have in common?
A healthy woman is more likely to conceive than one who struggles with a condition like high blood pressure or obesity. When hormones are in balance and nutritional needs are met, conditions are best for conception. But although a woman without underlying health concerns is probably more likely to conceive quickly, high blood pressure does not necessary lead to fertility issues in all women. Other factors related to hypertension may also play a part when a couple is trying to conceive.
According to the American Fertility Association, some medications used to treat hypertension in men can lead to decreased fertility. Spironolactone, which is found in several medications for high blood pressure, is believed to interfere with sperm production. Other blood pressure medicines can interfere with the sperm's ability to fertilize an egg. Tagamet, which treats peptic ulcers, can also lower sperm production.
As with any health concern, especially leading up to pregnancy or after conception, discuss all concerns with your healthcare provider. In many instances, there are prescription alternatives the father can try.
Women with high blood pressure who are having trouble conceiving may benefit from a consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist who is trained to deal with hormonal disorders and infertility. Hormonal imbalances can interfere with ovulation, and sometimes just not having enough of a certain hormone or releasing a hormone at a certain time can be the cause. Extremely underweight or overweight women are likely to have hormone imbalances.
Other health factors that often accompany high blood pressure can also play a factor in getting pregnant. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, associated with missed menstrual cycles or lengthy periods between cycles -- is one known cause of female infertility. The disorder is common in women who are obese. PCOS is also sometimes associated with heart disease or diabetes.
Since neither being overweight nor significantly underweight is healthy for a pregnant woman and her baby, preconception is a good time to adopt a healthier lifestyle. High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia) is made worse by insulin resistance, which is common in overweight women. Now is the time to slim down -- before you conceive, not after. Experts generally recommend a woman does not attempt to lose weight during pregnancy.
As with prescription medicines, the father is part of the equation when it comes to healthy eating and weight control. Male infertility can also be caused by obesity, which may lead to lower testosterone levels and poor sperm quality.
Together, establish an exercise routine and try to stick to it. Take daily walks, which have the added benefit of contributing to stress reduction. Enjoy your time together, away from the stresses of housekeeping and job responsibilities. Since high blood pressure during pregnancy can be dangerous for both a mother and her baby, it is important to establish good habits now. And both you and your partner will want to maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure after your child is born -- so that you have the energy to keep up with your little one as he grows and becomes active. Talk with your doctor now about how to best manage your blood pressure before and after conception.
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